As an active parent in the Santa Monica-Malibu school district, Shannon Gabor knows how much of a struggle it can be to fundraise. As an entrepreneur who runs an area business, she felt she could provide some help.

“When I became a mom, I realized there was an opportunity to blend my professional passion with what I was seeing as an opportunity to reinvent the fundraising model,” she said. “It became about, ‘How can we create more of an experience for kids to fundraise in a little bit more of a grassroots way, where they’re active participants?’”

Gabor is the CEO and founder of Clever Creative, a creative design agency in West Los Angeles. Her firm recently launched Clever Kids, a philanthropic vehicle that will host workshops for children and donate the proceeds to local schools and other nonprofit organizations.

Clever Kids recently raised $800 for the Parent Teacher Association at John Muir Elementary School, where Gabor’s daughter is currently enrolled.

“I see how hard people are working on fundraising at John Muir,” Gabor said. “I just thought, ‘How cool would it be if, rather than just doing the traditional fundraising, could we supplement that with experiential fundraising?’ My daughter has such school pride … and in this model she was able to see her community of friends come together. They understood what they were doing, they realized they were enjoying themselves and they were helping their school. It was a cool way to learn and create and give back. We were hoping Clever Kids could make it easier for schools to do that.”

In mid-September, a workshop at Clever Creative’s offices featured three different stations where Gabor’s staff helped about 20 John Muir students turn physical art creations into digital designs. First they created 2- and 3-dimensional projects using a variety of craft materials. Then their art was captured with a digital camera and transferred from a memory card to a computer. Finally, the children used software to enhance their designs electronically.

“It gave them a chance to see how we capture art, how the computer serves as a tool for us to manipulate and change things,” Gabor said. “It was remarkable. It was great to see these young minds look at the computer and have some fun digitally.”

Gabor said it was also a great experience for her employees to give back to the community. Their donations of time and energy complemented the materials, food and beverages that Gabor received from generous businesses.

Of particular importance to the success of the workshop was her connection with Yoobi, a for-profit school supply company that donates materials to underserved campuses for every sale it makes. Gabor said she hadn’t heard about Yoobi until a shopping trip with her daughter to Target, and she said the company was very receptive when she reached out about getting supplies for the workshop.

Gabor said it’s her agency’s goal to host one workshop each quarter in 2016, and she added that the events could eventually support groups other than the John Muir PTA.

“I call myself a mom-preneur, and it feels really good to see my daughter see me in a way that’s giving back,” she said. “I work hard to give back, do good and be a good role model for her.”

jeff@smdp.com

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