Artwork for Education Makes Drawing a Class Act

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Artwork for Education™ is a fresh approach to school fundraising that is getting the attention of educators across the country. For David Hirsch, principal of Wilbur Avenue Elementary School in Tarzana, Calif., it was almost too good to be true. "This was one of the easiest, cleanest fundraisers I have ever seen," he said. "The emotional impact of the children's art is amazing. It's like the kids' names go up in lights."

For David Hirsch, principal of Wilbur Avenue Elementary School in Tarzana, Calif., it was almost too good to be true. "This was one of the easiest, cleanest fundraisers I have ever seen," he said. "The emotional impact of the children's art is amazing. It's like the kids' names go up in lights."

Hirsch was speaking about Artwork for Education™, a fresh approach to school fundraising that is getting the attention of educators across the country. The program showcases student art on the front of full-color custom greeting cards and credits the artist by first name, age and school. Schools are spending the proceeds on everything from computer lab equipment to maintaining art, music and physical education programs.

Even though it's an easy sell to parents, school officials are also enthused about a fundraising program that puts art back into the classroom. At Oak Hills Elementary in Ventura County, Calif., Principal Leslie Heilbron said, "It allowed our children to be creative and expressive with artwork. We've incorporated it into our art curriculum."

Artwork for Education is the creation of Long Beach-based Worldwise Education (WE), a new breed of for-profit company with a socially responsible mission. "Our goal is to enhance public education across the country by merging entrepreneurial spirit with educational philanthropy," said CEO Charles Paul, who founded WE in 2003. "Artwork for Education is a win-win-win program for students, schools and consumers because it supports art, builds students' self-esteem, raises critically needed funds and provides communities with products that feature their children's art."

To help sustain each school's ability to generate funds year-round, WE added a web-based component that catalogs every school's artwork and enables online purchases for up to one year. In addition, a retail partner program allows local merchants to sell individual cards and share the proceeds with schools.

"The Internet and retail programs are particularly effective because schools continue to make money with no additional work," said Paul. "As Artwork for Education expands, we can fund our future educational programs."

The cornerstone of Paul's long-term vision is WExchange, a web site currently under development that will provide teachers with access to donated and low-cost school supplies obtained from individuals, retailers' overstock and manufacturers' excess inventory.

"Eventually, WExchange will host webcasts and interactive learning modules as well," said Paul. "We intend to become a flagship company for both educators and retailers."

If reaction to Artwork for Education is any indicator, the company is well on its way to achieving that goal. More than 160 schools nationwide have signed on for the current school year and over 100,000 cards have been sold in the last three months. Parents are understandably enthusiastic, but recognition is also coming from educational leaders in high places.

"Promoting arts education and the artwork of students are terrific goals in and of themselves," said Massachusetts Commissioner of Education David Driscoll. "Adding the ability of schools and districts to raise significant funds in these most difficult times is also most important."

Artwork for Education also addresses another area of concern, according to Lisé Belton, board president of the Spreckels Union School District in northern California. "Schools are responding to the national mandate that we prioritize the health and physical well being of our students," she said. "We have asked our parent groups to respond by cutting down the amount of junk food fundraisers we use to raise money. This art fundraiser has accomplished that goal."

About Worldwise Education

Worldwise Education, Inc. (WE) is a privately held for-profit corporation whose mission is to provide schoolchildren everywhere with equal access to learning opportunities by supplying schools, teachers and students with educational materials and resources that are in critical need. For more information, contact Worldwise Education, Inc., (562) 595-9600, or visit the website at http://www.WorldwiseEducation.com.

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PETER TERHORST
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