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Newburyport Uses Secret Weapon To Raise Money For Schools

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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NEWBURYPORT (CBS) – Budget cuts are the harsh reality in communities across Massachusetts. As a result, thousands of students come home from school every fall with various forms of fundraising activities. There are candles, candy bars, even frozen cookie dough that kids have to sell in order to raise money for their schools

Newburyport has the same needs as most other towns but they have a new tool that raises money without ever having to ask. A new music lab at the middle school is just one example of how that money is being used according to Superintendent Marc Kerble. “We have a new writing lab. We have technology. We have stacks of books that are going into our classrooms,” he said.

Much of that money is being donated by the people of this seaside community and they don’t even realize it. How? Newburyport has teamed up with Generate for Schools; a local company that helps businesses cut their own costs while raising money at the same time. The company’s secret weapon: the credit card authorization machine.

Here’s how it works. Every time someone buys something using a credit or debit card, the store owner has to pay a fee to process the transaction. Generate For Schools helps the store owner get a better deal on that service and then shares the savings with the schools.

“It’s really simple,” said Kim Lively, owner of children’s clothing store. Kim’s business is one of dozens of local shops participating in the program. It makes sense. You are just giving money back to the school and everyone feels good about it and it saves money as well,” she said.

Kim’s store generates about $20 a month for the schools. While that may not seem like much, when you add up the 50 businesses that take part in the program, it adds up quickly. “I think it’s going to be about 17-thousand dollars this year and every year that goes back into Newburyport,” explained Generate For Schools founder John Malone.

According to Malone, once the businesses are on board, there’s little else to do but count the money that comes in automatically. “It eliminates the constant struggle associated with event-based fundraising and allows a steady stream of unrestricted recurring revenue that comes in,” Malone said.

“It’s a way to get the kinds of equipment and funding that we need that we don’t get in our local budget,” Kerble said.

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