Since 1997, Target’s Take Charge of Education program has given over $432 million to 120,000 K-12 schools by donating 1 percent of REDcard holders’ charges to the school of their choice. Last week Target announced plans to end this long-running program in favor of focusing their philanthropic efforts on health and wellness.
Through their REDCard purchases, Saint Michael-Albertville families racked up $47,862 in Take Charge of Education donations last year alone. Though information is not available on the total amount Target’s program has benefitted the district since its inception, it’s safe to say that number is likely north of $250,000, which schools utilize to address student needs and pay for one-time expenses and purchases, such as special presentations, additional library books and more.
STMA principals listed the ways they have utilized their Take Charge of Education donations, and some of the recent expenditures include:
Student leadership activities (Freshmen Connections, Leadership Speaker Series and other leadership and speaker opportunities)
Academic Excellence Ceremony
Veteran’s Day Program
8th Grade Transition Day
Individual student needs
Student assemblies such as the Raptor Center and Pacer Puppets
Leveled books for classroom libraries and the media center
Student field trips
Supporting Knights’ Honor program for student recognition
Student school supply needs
Supporting the Courage Retreat (anti-bullying) for students
Individual student needs
Technology (purchased Chromebooks and carts, new batteries for lap tops)
Donations to families in need
Books for the book room, guided reading and literature circles
Variety of instructional materials
The Take Charge of Education donations are especially useful to school districts because they can utilize the funds in any way they deem most necessary, as evidenced by the varied list of uses STMA schools had for their donation money. While this is changing, Target maintains it is not taking its focus away from schools and education; rather, it says it will focus on these areas through a ‘wellness lens.’
“We’ll continue to focus on youth, both in-school and out, and leverage current programs like Meals for Minds in-school food pantry program and Target Field Trips, along with new solutions,” Laysha Ward, Target’s chief corporate social responsibility officer, said in a press release on the changes.
Ward also said Target would ease this transition for schools by giving a school year’s notice of the changes and by providing an unrestricted transition grant to all schools who receive a Take Charge of Education payout in February 2016.
“Schools will miss the Target funds,” district superintendent Jim Behle said. “The program has benefitted individual students and enriched our educational programming.”