The School Zone Podcast team welcomes Matt Miller, President and Founder of School Spirit Vending to the School Zone!
Matt Miller’s career began in the Military and then advertising space. Twelve years ago he started a simple vending business to help raise money for M.D. Anderson’s Children’s Cancer Center. In 2007-2008, several young kids came knocking on Matt’s door selling stuff for fundraisers at the local school. He thought that was kind of odd. He did not know the kids and there were no parents with them. They were essentially going door to door in a suburb of Houston. Matt had children of a comparable age and knew that there was no way he would let his kids out on the street to do something like that. Because of his background in traditional vending and print media, he thought maybe he could help get some kids off the street, raise school spirit and earn the school money in the process. Matt came up with the concept of customizing school spirit stickers for schools and then placing sticker machines in the school that would sell the spirit stickers along with whatever else the kids were in to. It’s a great way to raise school spirit and a passive way for schools to raise money on a monthly basis, not requiring any volunteers or big events to coordinate.
The hassle-free nature of the School Spirit Vending program makes us different from traditional fundraisers. Our goal is to step in and replace the volunteers that many schools need but are having a challenge finding. Most families are requiring mom and dad to work in order to provide, so the number of volunteers available has dropped off over the years. Our program allows them to raise money without any man hours required at the school. It allows the volunteers and school staff to put more focus on educating our kids instead of having to raise money all of the time.
There is a place for traditional fundraisers, but there is always a need for additional funds. Sometimes it’s the basic necessities in schools that they do not have a budget for. Our program does not replace traditional fundraisers, but provides added funds for those things that are being left along the wayside. In a school of 300-500 students, machine revenue can be anywhere from $50 to $250. School size is not the primary determining factor, however. The school’s willingness to embrace our program and promote it has been the biggest differentiator in revenue dollars. Our program is a supplement to fundraisers the school is already doing; it is ongoing and goes on behind the scenes without school staff or volunteers having to mess with it.
There are a few considerations for school principals. The machines need to be in a high traffic area like the school hallway or cafeteria where kids have access to it. We have a simple one page agreement that defines our relationship to the school. They fill it out and get it back to us. From there we collect the school’s mascot if they have one to incorporate into their custom sticker designs. If they don’t have a school mascot, we can create one for them. We design 2 different custom spirit stickers for the school, have them printed and make them available year round as one of the selections in the sticker machine. The remaining product in the machine is geared to the elementary audience and is both parent and kid friendly. We do all of this at no cost to the school.
School Spirit Vending believes it is important to offer an educational element with sticker machine vends as well. Early on the Marlin and Percy comic series was created to show up in sticker machines on the cardboard folders that contain each sticker. They offer added value through fun and educational games while promoting reading. Our newest batch of board games includes Inspire a Kid content that aims to inspire a kid to greatness through positive character lessons and entrepreneurial education.
School Spirit Vending has developed resources including short video and audio clips to help schools promote the sticker machine within their schools. These clips can be used in morning announcements, classrooms and school assemblies.
School Spirit Vending offers a unique program that values education, inspiring kids to greatness and family. If you would like to learn more about School Spirit Vending and how your school can benefit from the program, please contact us.