Effort aids enrichment programs for youth

National program run by local residents

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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A locally led effort that funds student enrichment opportunities around the country through credit card purchases is looking to boost its impact in the Vancouver area.

Arts and sports often are among the casualties when school districts trim their budgets, but those programs also are what keep many students involved in school.

"We're concerned about making sure those enhancements are not lost," said Victoria Bradford, an Evergreen school board member and owner of Comfort Interiors.

Bradford is part of the year-old partnership that is seeking to provide stable funding for those school programs. Bradford is a director of Pomeroy Equitable Solutions, a for-profit company that is partnering with a bank-card processing company in the fundraising effort called "Swipe4TheKids."

"It's a sustainable funding source that isn't dependent on whims," Bradford said.

"It's also an equity issue," Bradford said, because wealthy families can pay for enrichment opportunities like music or sports that low-income kids often only get at school.

Swipe4TheKids receives 24 percent of the merchant service fee incurred by a business when customers use credit and debit cards to make purchases. There is no increased cost for the business, and the money for school programs stays in the community.

Battle Ground resident Peter Riggio, CEO of Pomeroy Equitable Solutions, said the company provides branding and marketing services for the effort. Portland-based Eclypse Solutions provides the processing for the credit and debit card transactions.

For every dollar in card transaction fees, Eclypse Solutions gets 40 cents, Pomeroy Equitable Solutions gets 36 cents and youth programs in the merchant's community gets 24 cents.

In Vancouver, the Arthur Murray Dance Studio and Ice Cream Renaissance are raising $50 to $60 a month. Bradford's Comfort Interiors also is participating. The local money supports science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities in the Evergreen school district.

With Portland merchants, the program means about $180 a month right now for programs in the Portland school district, Riggio said. A school program in Orlando, Fla., is receiving about $120 a month from its local merchants.

One restaurant in California's Orange County is generating about $80 a month for an autism support program, he said.

For information, call Riggio at 360-771-0275.


Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://twitter.com/col_history; tom.vogt@columbian.com.