The Learning Locker is an idea that has been rattling around in my head for a year or so. Basically, I want to open a non-profit “store” where teachers can go and get school supplies for their classes – at no charge to them.
I was reminded of this idea again yesterday when I was at OfficeMax. I saw three teachers I know through my children – and they were all buying classroom supplies with money out of their own pocket. I don’t think teachers should have to spend a portion of their already slim salaries on tools to do their job.
Teachers have one of the most critical jobs in our society, and I think we do a poor job of recognizing that.
Basically my idea is to try and create a corporate sponsored non-profit that receives both cash funding, and product from companies like WalMart, Target, etc. They donate goods or funds in exchange for community good-will.
I really would like to build this from the ground up with the intent that it enables franchising. I’m not aware of anyone applying franchising to non-profits, but I see no reason why it could not be successful.
I spent most of this morning talking to various companies, like WalMart and Target. I need to talk to their national offices, and not just local stores, but basically I am getting a pretty good reception.
In the next few days I will try to find a pro-bono attorney to set up the non-profit, and help with franchising crap. I’ll find a realtor to help me find about 3,000 square feet of shell space that is either donated, or very cheap. I’ll work with local schools an organizations like the Boy Scouts – trying to find people that need to do community service to meet group or school requirements in the hope I can get some volunteers to helped “manage the store”, do stocking, etc.
I need to find a couple of programmer’s that are willing to help write/modify a Point of Sale software package. I’m already in contact with a company to provide a free Point of Sale system – scanner, register, receipt printer, etc. Why do I need this if everything is free? Because I need to be able to show where donations are going – I need to track what schools are using the service the most, so I can either relocate closer to them, or open another branch close to them.
I’ve sent a dozen emails to teachers today asking basic questions, like, “What hours would be most convenient for you?”. Is it enough just to be open on a Saturday, or do they need us to be open during the week as well? I have no clue what would be the most convenient for them. I’m learning.
I’m also learning that starting a non-profit is even more difficult than starting a corporation. I’ve read a lot online about starting a for-profit business, but I can’t find much on starting a non-profit franchise…
We’ll see how things go…