INSPIRED IMPACT is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to social entrepreneurs and leaders of mission-driven organizations who are making an impact in their communities, industries, and around the world.

 



 

Tom WeeksTom Weeks is the Chief Executive Officer of Education Funding Partners. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and learn more at edufundingpartners.com.

 

WHAT DO YOU DO?
Education Funding Partners is a for-profit B Corp which works to generate extra revenue for schools, districts, and education organizations by placing display advertising on their digital assets. To do that, we’ve created EFP adNet, a completely free and family-friendly ad publishing network that serves upward of 300 million monthly impressions. We help brands like American Girl, JCPenney, Sam’s Club, Elmer’s Glue, and more reach their target audience of moms and parents while simultaneously giving a majority of that advertising money back to our schools, districts, and organizations via a revenue-share of the advertising revenue. This year, EFP was recognized by B Labs as “Best for the World” for Customers and for Governance.

 

WHY DO YOU DO IT?
Having spent 25 years in the digital ad business, I saw an opportunity to take what I’ve learned from my experiences and apply those lessons to doing good. I wanted to take the power of advertising and directly apply it to creating positive impact in society.

 

WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
We hope our biggest impact is on U.S. education. Anyone who has even glanced at the news knows that the current state of education in most parts of our country is dire. Teachers aren’t getting paid enough, innovative programs aren’t getting implemented, and students are slipping through the cracks. A big reason why is lack of funding. While we know EFP adNet won’t relieve a school’s financial strain overnight, we do know that the money we give back will help improve education in some way, whether it’s to help a district purchase a comprehensive new curriculum or allow a school to buy new sports equipment. The districts and schools we work with have complete freedom to use the funding in whatever way they need to. We’re just glad to play some part in helping drive student achievement.

 

WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
The teachers and educators who are doing so much with so little. I believe that each of us is responsible for coming up with creative solutions to help ensure that our country’s children get the best possible education and that teachers are provided with the resources they need. I want the teachers who already have so much on their plate to just focus on being the best educators they can be instead of worrying about where their school supplies are coming from.

 

WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
My dream is that we continue to grow the number of schools and districts using our free product and benefiting from the extra funding we’ll generate for them. I would also like for brands, companies, and media agencies to see EFP adNet as the premium ad network to reach moms and parents. Much more idealistically, I hope that any potential barriers that may hinder organizations from being able to use free products like EFP adNet, whose sole purpose is to benefit a sector that needs the resources, is re-examined.

 

WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
We need support from the education community and wide-scale adoption of our services. We also need new advertisers to come onboard, as they are the key to driving revenue for districts. Brands like P&G, Walmart, and Target – just to name a few – who really have a family focus at their core and who are committed to giving back to their communities can use EFP adNet as a vehicle to amplify their messaging. Via their digital advertising budgets, these brands really have a new opportunity to make a positive impact in the education community by working with us, supporting the very consumers who use their products and services. I think both more districts and more advertisers are possible if they just stay open-minded to new ways of fundraising and new networks of digital advertising.

 

WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
Creating a clear awareness about what we offer to both educators and brands has definitely been a challenge. In a time-starved world, it’s hard to cut through the status quo with a new service. Additionally, the long sales cycle involved in both onboarding districts and advertisers can make it difficult to see immediate positive gains. The cost of acquisition, of moving through the sales funnel, requires resources and patience.

 

WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Leverage your connections and get involved with other like-minded leaders. Network with them in order to help support each other’s initiatives and businesses. I had the chance to speak at Loyola University Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business as part of a Leading for Good conference, an event that brought together local leaders from various sectors all dedicated to the idea of using business to advance the greater social good. Connecting with passionate individuals like those at the conference helped inspire and reaffirm my commitment to what I’m doing.

 

HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
If you have colleagues, friends, or family members who control digital media spend for brands who want to target either moms or teachers, do not hesitate to have them email me at tweeks@edufundingpartners.com. They have the power to help improve U.S. education.

 


Orapin Marketing + Public Relations is an award-winning communications agency that generates awareness, engagement, and, ultimately, support for mission-driven organizations. We amplify their voice and reach so they can increase their impact. If you would like to be featured on INSPIRED IMPACT, reach out to hello@orapinmarketing.com.