General Mills' Box Tops for Education Program Is Going Digital

Photoboyko/iStock via Getty Images
Photoboyko/iStock via Getty Images

In 1996, General Mills began adding redemption offers to its line of cereals. Named Box Tops for Education, the program allowed consumers to clip the offer from the tops of products like Cheerios and forward them to their child’s school, which could redeem each slip for 10 cents; that money was then used to buy school supplies and fund educational events. In the past two decades, the cardboard-based program has paid out nearly $914 million to schools nationwide. Now, it’s getting a digital upgrade.

General Mills is introducing a new app that will allow people collecting box tops to photograph or scan their receipts instead. After buying a participating General Mills product, consumers can submit their proof of purchase by capturing the receipt. The app will automatically donate 10 cents to the school of their choice. Districts typically use the funds for things like iPads, playground equipment, and parties or trips.

Participants will have 14 days from the time they purchase a product to submit their receipt. The company eventually plans to phase out the offer from boxes. Until then, consumers will be free to submit the physical clipping and the receipt, doubling the value of the purchase.

The move to the app has not been universally praised. On the official Box Tops for Education Facebook page, some users have complained that scanning their receipts might disclose to General Mills their consumer spending habits. Others believe that contributors who don’t have smartphones will simply give up on the program. But the move was greeted with relief by others, as snipping the analog box tops can be time-consuming. The offers had to be cut cleanly and packaged in baggies of no more than 50 tops each. Organizers were left to sort through submitted box tops, which could number in the thousands at some schools.

The app is available for iPhone or Android users and can be downloaded via links on the General Mills Box Tops for Education website.

[h/t South Florida Sun Sentinel]

Phoenix High School Builds Laundry Room to Assist Underprivileged Students

harmpeti/iStock via Getty Images
harmpeti/iStock via Getty Images

At Maya High School in Phoenix, Arizona, a large closet off the cafeteria has been converted into a laundry room called “The Missing Sock,” complete with a washing machine, a dryer, and even laundry detergent—no quarters or cards needed.

According to AZFamily, principal John Anderson came up with the idea after realizing that many of the school’s students—more than 30 percent of whom are homeless—were reluctant to even show up for school simply because they didn’t have a way to wash their clothes. After talking to one student in particular, who explained that his family wasn’t providing him with the basic resources he needed in order to succeed in school, Anderson decided it was time for the school itself to step up.

So, with the help of grants from the Leona Group, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Fiesta Bowl, Anderson and his colleagues built their own miniature laundromat, much like West Side High School in New Jersey did last year. If similar endeavors elsewhere are any indication, Maya High School could see a pretty significant quantitative impact on attendance: Schools that received appliances from Whirlpool as part of their Care Counts program, for example, saw a two-day rise in attendance rates for chronically absent students and a staggering increase in class participation.

“I come from a homeless background,” Maya High School special projects coordinator (and graduate) Andreya De La Torre told AZFamily. “Coming to school smelling, kids don’t want to be by you. They are talking about you. And it’s just really hard to focus on your education when you are focused on your self-esteem.”

In addition to giving underprivileged kids easy access to clean clothes, “The Missing Sock” is also a symbol of Maya’s commitment to providing its students with more than just academic skills.

“We offer them life skills to teach them things that someone is probably not teaching them on the outside … and to show them love,” De La Torre explained to AZFamily.

“We make them believe in themselves and want to do it for themselves,” Anderson added.

And it doesn’t stop at the laundry room—Maya High School just earned another grant from the Arizona Diamondbacks, which Anderson will use to install showers in the school, too.

[h/t AZFamily]

New Jersey Is the Latest State to Push for Cursive in the Classroom

Ridofranz/iStock via Getty Images
Ridofranz/iStock via Getty Images

If you happen to have spent some time with kids who graduated from elementary school in the last decade or so, you may notice they have little idea how to form the graceful Gs and 2-shaped Qs of cursive—or any other cursive letter, for that matter. The cursive alphabet was cut from the Common Core curriculum in 2010, and it’s been making those of us who learned it feel old ever since.

However, a number of states—most recently, Texas—have elected to reintroduce cursive into schools in the last few years, and New Jersey is hoping to follow suit. According to WPEC, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight is sponsoring a bill that would require students to master reading and writing in cursive by the end of third grade.

“Our world has indeed become increasingly dependent on technology, but how will our students ever know how to read a scripted font on a Word document, or even sign the back of a check, if they never learn to read and write in cursive?” McKnight asked in a press release. “This bill will ensure every young student in New Jersey will have this valuable skill to carry with them into adulthood.”

Opponents could make the argument that physical checks and scripted fonts are well on their way to becoming relics of the past right alongside cursive literacy, but it’s not just real-world applications that make learning the loopy alphabet such a valuable skill.

“Some research suggests that learning to read and write in cursive benefits the development of cognitive, motor, and literacy skills,” the bill says. “In addition, instruction in cursive handwriting has been associated with improved academic outcomes for students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia.”

It may also increase your SAT scores, improve your spelling, and more—read about its other benefits here.

[h/t WPEC]

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