From the time of its inception until now, Agape North has been able to, through the giving spirit of our customers, donate schools shirts to students in Title I schools all across the globe. This shirt gift increases school pride, decreases clothing-related violence and bullying, decreases distractions in the classroom, and in general provides an additional shirt for a kid in a zip code where, unfortunately, home closets can look bare. The gift being a small part of the larger vision of educational and life success is why we have been doing what we do at Agape North.
Our staff has always taken the vision of giving one step further, providing the opportunity for clients to physically visit a school to announce their shirt gift and spend some time meeting students and learning about the important work a school is doing right in their backyard. In 2014, America’s Promise Academy released a survey study that reflected the thoughts of young people who had dropped out of high school. 17.7% of students who were surveyed nation-wide reported that they felt as if no one cared if they went to school. One thing that a client showing up to a school communicates to young people is that people care whether or not you are present at school. Our business model is ultimately a vehicle to communicate these very important things to students. Since we launched in 2012, we have been able to give 130,000 (as of August 2019) school shirts to students and communicate “we care” and “you are valued” 130,000 different times. On average, we give just north of 30,000 shirts each school year, and this translates to more than 100 events we coordinate and execute for our clients on school campuses. What we do during these one-hour donation events has shifted and evolved over the years, and we thought it would be a neat exercise to walk you through our different Agape North Donation Event adaptations as we prepare for another exciting giving season during the 2019-2020 school year.
2012-2014: The Concept Years. In the early years, we were getting our feet wet with the idea of doing these donation events, and the typical flow consisted of holding a large school assembly where the shirts were revealed and the giving client was introduced. With each of these models, there was a clear downside and upside. The downside here was a lack of true interaction between the client and the students, but the upside was that was felt we had a powerful concept with real potential to make a difference in the lives of the giver and receiver. But how could we blur this line between giver and receiver, making our events look less like charity? This question led us to what we have come to label as “The Trial and Error Years”.
2015-2017: Trial and Error Years. In order to get folks in the mix with kids, we had to add a piece to the event flow after the introductory assembly time. This began to look like reading a book in the classroom (elementary events) or participating in a college and career Q&A (middle and high school events). The downside to this event was that we still wanted to push the envelope on relational connection, the upside was there was an energy in innovation. Had we not innovated, we wouldn’t have arrived at “The Team Building Years”.
2018-2019, The Team Building Years. This most recent school year was a lot of fun for our team as we feel like we hit a real sweet spot with our events, subbing the assembly time out for a student-led or assisted school tour. This helped us start out on a relational foot. We then followed the tour with a team building session, a mix of fun interactive games and small group discussion that really gets people communicating, smiling, and learning about one another. The downside to this structure has been that our staff has to reinvent the team building session each summer to keep it fresh for the upcoming school year, but this is also the upside as it’s extremely fresh and highly relational.
Our staff is committed to continuing to discern what is best first of all for students, and then for clients, as we make continual adjustments and tweaks to our events. What we do know is that making it less of a transaction and more of an interaction continues to make for healthy and lively events. What we don’t know is exactly what our model will look like a couple of years from now, but we will always seek out the proper spirit of giving along with our amazing clients.
Director of School Relations, Agape North