SmartMouth.com Offers Area Schools a Smart New Way to Raise Money while Raising Student Awareness of World Cultures and Foreign Languages

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SmartMouthLearning.com, an online store offering multicultural and multilingual toys, books, music and other children's foreign language learning materials, has turned it's attention to helping local schools raise much needed funds. SmartMouth, started by a local Florida mom, began the 5% affiliate program to offer schools an easy way to earn a strong return on fundraising efforts, while ensuring students receive educational benefits from participating.

SmartMouthLearning.com emphasizes fun in their collection of learning materials, all of which are meant to reinforce second language acquisition in the home, including children's books, toys, dolls and music in Spanish, French, German, Chinese and many other languages. The website was founded by a local Orlando mom, Consuelo Bova. Born in Miami and raised bilingual (Spanish/English), Ms. Bova struggled to raise her own children bilingual as well: "Ours is not a bilingual household, so teaching my children a second-language required a bit more creativity and effort for me than it did for my parents." Bova turned to books and toys to help speed the process along. With SmartMouth, her aim was to help other parents share foreign language and culture with their children.

SmartMouth's new fund-raising initiative for schools was similarly inspired. "Budget short-falls are no big secret. We all know our schools need additional funds, but as a parent, I'm tired of clipping cardboard coupons from cereal boxes and selling (and buying) gift-wrap and junk food," explains Bova. "As a business owner, I can't help but think in percentages and margins and it frustrates me how little traditional fundraising efforts offer students and schools in return for their time and money." Bova points out that besides the small dollar return, many programs ask kids to buy and sell items that parents and educators then turn around and discourage kids from consuming, "Popcorn, cookies, chocolate- these things benefit neither student's health nor their education." In addition, often fundraising programs offer pricey goods and lack anonymity, causing hurt feelings and insecurity among students whose families can't or won't purchase the treats: "Our program features books and educational toys starting at $3.95 and what's more important to me is that there is no score-card to identify which student earned the most or the least- the school simply receives a check for 5% of overall purchases."

One of Bova's goals when starting SmartMouth was to engage with the educational community: "I believe so strongly in bilingual education and global, cultural awareness as well as the benefits of improving coordination between parents and local schools." SmartMouth's first step in this direction began this month with the launch of their new School Affiliate Fundraising program. If your public, private or other school is not yet a partner, Bova encourages PTA parents and administrators to visit SmartMouthLearning.com. The program is accessed via a link featured prominently on SmartMouth's website and registration takes less than one minute. After registering, schools receive a unique URL via email to share with parents and friends. Schools that register online with SmartMouth receive an automatic 5% back on all purchases originating from their school's unique URL. Parents and teachers are encouraged to share the URL with friends and family by traditional word of mouth and social-networking. "Facebook has been a tremendous tool to expand the program and make it more profitable for schools, since parents can share the link directly with friends and family across the country," says Bova.

SmartMouth's program hopes to offer local schools an opportunity to earn a strong return on their fundraising efforts, plus ensure that students are purchasing products which benefit them academically and in many cases, enhance a teacher's curriculum. "The wealth of recent data indicating the strong benefits of bilingualism and raising global citizens, coupled with the ever-decreasing funds available to schools for foreign language education and other valuable programs, make this a great partnership for schools," explains Bova. And one she hopes to expand throughout the state this year and roll-out nationally soon after.

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Consuelo Bova
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