One Step Closer

“We believe that our partnership with School Square has the potential to make the volunteer management process significantly more efficient so that staff can focus more on most effectively recruiting and building those relationships with volunteers and community that is so essential for ongoing support in our schools.” Someone recently said to us, cash is king.  And, boy, don’t we know it.  As a non-profit trying to make our way in the sea of start-ups, raising the money to take us from a mock-up to an operational platform is actually everything.  No money = no platform = not being able to spark joy in children’s lives through skill-based, community volunteers.   I know.  We feel the urgency of that mathematical equation, too.   With our feet to the proverbial fire, we’ve been hot on the trail of grants and foundations that can support us to meet our goals of creating a community-centered school district through volunteerism.  And, along the way we’ve […]

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UPDATE: Our Pitch to the VIA Agency

What do you get when you mix a hot pizza lunch with a beautiful storyboard and 15 of Portland’s most brilliant creative minds?  An amazing…video!  Or at least we hope.  Those of you who have followed along with our progress might remember that we made some pretty amazing connections coming out of our Springboard with Lift360.  And this magical lunch just so happens to be one of them.   This week, Simon had an exiting challenge in front of him: pitch School Square at The VIA Agency’s “Lunch and Learn” series to see who might want to support us in making an amazing video to share our vision.  But the stakes were high.  This marks a critical juncture in School Square’s (albeit short) history and it feels pretty urgent for the team.  The creation of this video has the potential to change the game for us by kick-starting our fundraising efforts (pun intended) and turn our new platform from a mock-up into a reality.  […]

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Sneak Peek: Our New Platform

We may have dropped a hint in our last post that a sneak peek of our new platform was just around the corner.  Well here we are, around that corner.  For the last several months, Simon has been working with the brilliant Patrick at DriveUX to help us give our current platform a major upgrade and make our teacher-volunteer-matching dreams come true.  We’ve added features that allow teachers, volunteers and school administrators to sign up, create profiles, schedule meetings, approve references and oh-so-much-more.  After several iterations, it is looking sharp, user-friendly and the School Square team is feeling pretty proud of our new tech-knowledge.  Words like UX design, beta, wireframe and MVP are now part of our everyday conversation and we love it!  But, don’t worry if those terms sound like gibberish to you.  We understand.  And that’s why we’ve included lots of pictures in this post and a few definitions.  So, drum roll please… We are proud to present […]

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Spotlight Series ☀ Olympian Julia Clukey

“Kids need a lot of people to believe in them. Every kid has potential for greatness and every kid should feel like they belong somewhere. ” Julia Clukey called from the training facility in Lake Placid, where she’d just finished up her luge training for the day in anticipation of the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang.  I’ll admit, when my phone rang I was a little nervous.  Fielding phone calls from Olympians isn’t an everyday occurrence for me.  In fact, that day was a first.  So what does Julia do when she’s not busy flinging herself down an icy slide at mind-boggling speeds?  How does electrical engineering come into it?  And what does that have to do with School Square, you’re wondering?  Why, I’m so glad you asked… Throughout the course of our interview, it became clear that several things really drive Julia: education, community and sparking a passion in others. No wonder the School Square team was smitten! Julia was born and […]

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UPDATE: School Square Gets a Lift360

It’s been a little over a month since the School Square team had our Springboard Session with Lift360, and wow, what a month it’s been!  The session was an incredible resource, and we’ve wasted no time connecting with the panelists and putting their great ideas into motion.  Take a moment and get caught up on all the action! 1.  A marketing campaign on LinkedIn?  Yes, please! We connected with panelist Tamara Thomas, Interim Vice President of IT at Martin’s Point Healthcare.  She is part of Lift360’s Leadership Intensive, and her group aims to help us create a marketing campaign that can be shared on Linkedin that would drive potential volunteers to School Square.  I mean, how awesome is that!? 2. Possibilities with The VIA Agency  With Tammy’s help, we also connected with John Coleman, CEO of The VIA Agency.  They are well known for their giving spirit (check this out!) and he’s open to connecting us with his employees about possible […]

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Spotlight Series ☀️ David J. Cote

“Everyone is being emulated by someone for something…even the smallest investment in someone and they can be changed forever. It’s 100% the responsibility of a community to invest in our children’s education.” Yesterday I had the honor of sitting down with first-time School Square volunteer and founder of The Summit Project (TSP), Marine Corps Major Reservist David J. Cote.  With his watch still set to military time, the now UNUM employee and member of their Accelerated Leadership Development Program punctually ushered me into the cafeteria with his lunch in hand.  Over the next hour we talked about his experience volunteering in Portland High School teacher Sally Reagan’s 11th grade Modern World History class, our mutual interests (including Boston College!), the time he made a Girl Scout troop’s dreams come true by getting them on the news, how he got his nickname Sandman, the importance of investing in kids and the people who inspired him along his journey.  Oh, and like any […]

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Introducing the Spotlight Series ☀️

“Community is a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” During last week’s Springboard with Lift360, one of the panelists raised a simple, yet thought provoking question:  Does School Square aspire to be a platform, or do you actually aim to be a community?  Without blinking an eye we all answered: School Square is a community.  I mean, schools are the natural centers of communities.  It just makes sense.  But we realized we needed a way to show that…   That’s when the Spotlight Series☀️ was born.  So what is it, you’re wondering? Well, this is larger than just School Square.  We know that we are a vast community of teachers, students, volunteers and business leaders who are working tirelessly in schools across this beautiful city of ours.  We are a fellowship with a common goal to support teachers, inspire students, spark learning opportunities and strengthen this city we lovingly call home.  We contribute to […]

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Update- Fall 2015

Update It’s been a while since we last posted to the blog or sent a message, so we thought we’d reach out and let you know what we’ve been up to. We sure have been busy the past two months; whether it’s been building strong partnerships within the community or making individual teacher-volunteer connections, our days have been filled… Keep reading for a more detailed update on what we’re doing in the community, what we have in store and, most importantly, how you can help us get there. What have we been doing?   For starters, with the enthusiastic support of their superintendent, Jeanne Crocker, we have officially partnered with the Portland Public School System for the 2015-2016 year. We could not be more excited for this partnership – it is a critical step in working together to ensure students, teachers and community members connect in meaningful ways. To top that off, we were thrilled to receive an incredibly generous donation of $2,500.00 […]

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The Water Is Fine

I remember screaming with all the other campers at Portland Sports Camp; we were being attacked. It was a shark – he had massive arms and legs, was very hairy and he had the biggest head I’d even seen. Despite these uncharacteristic attributes, we knew he was a fierce creature because of the fin atop his head.  This hand-fin belonged to the camp’s director and Maine legend, Mort Soule. Mort would glide through the shallow end at Kiwanis Pool as campers would squeal and dog paddle out of his path. Before we knew it, the shark would have a camper in his clutches. Instantly, both shark and minnow were laughing as Mort pretended to gnaw on the camper’s gangly limbs. When he finished his meal, Mort would plunk the child back in the water, each of us hoping to be next.  This week I finish up working at summer school in the Portland School District. As I reflect on the […]

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