CARMICHAEL, Calif. -- For father-daughter retailers Edward and Annie Marszal of California Retail Management, supporting education is a total no-brainer. So when their local Chevron representatives gave a presentation about the major oil's Fuel Your School fundraiser, the dealer immediately signed on.
Since 2010, Chevron U.S.A. Inc. has partnered with DonorsChoose.org, an online charity that connects donors with public-school teachers who are raising funds for class projects. At the DonorsChoose website, donors can chip in for everything from books to microscope slides to iPads.
In its Fuel Your School program, Chevron donated $1 for fundraisers at DonorsChoose.org for every eight gallons or larger fill up purchased in the month of October at participating Chevron and Texaco stations, for a total contribution of nearly $5 million.
Teachers could request up to $2,000 in materials for their classroom project. While Chevron considers all educational projects, it encouraged those that focus on science, technology, engineering or math. Chevron dealers, meanwhile, could choose which of their local schools to support.
For 2012, Chevron expanded its Fuel Your School program to nine communities in five states, including California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas and Utah.
California Retail Management's Chevron-branded convenience stores funneled its customers' donations to its local school of choice, Arden Middle School in Sacramento.
"Normally companies will give a half million dollars to the city of Sacramento," Annie Marszal, manager at California Retail Management, told CSP Daily News. "This one came through retail--each station gets to take credit for promoting the program. People actually feel like they're contributing, as opposed to half a million [dollars] donated and no one knows about it."
Chevron supplied dealers with signage for the pumps explaining how the program works. California Retail Management gave employees phone scripts to help with fundraising, promoted the program at its 76 branded locations and had employees take home fliers to share with friends and relatives. "It really created a buzz," said Annie Marszal, who described the promotion as a grassroots effort.
Customers fully embraced the fundraising. "We've experienced at the station level people coming in with a 20-gallon tank; they'll fill up eight gallons, hang up, then fill up again so they can get $2 donated, which is kind of cool," said Marszal. "We had customers coming in and saying, 'I know I just donated $2 with my fillup, but how can we donate more for teachers and projects?'." The retailer hopes to participate in the program again next year, at more locations.
For California Retail Management, the effort was truly realized when it accomplished its goal: raising sufficient funds for a digital microscope in an Arden Middle School science class. "The coolest part was seeing the teacher presented with the digital microscope," said Marszal. "We were there in the class and he used it in front of one of his classes and how they are putting to work. It's real."
Edward Marszal, company founder and CEO, said the program brings a personal touch to Chevron's generosity, as well as that of its dealers and customers.
"With our business, it's that sense of giving back to the community and having our customers know that, rather than reading a little paragraph in the community newsletter that Chevron donated so much money to a school. It brings it to the forefront that we're part of it," he said.
"We've been in the business for 31 years," he continued. "To this day, I run into kids who used to be in the backseats of cars in stations and are coming back. I'm a firm believer ... that we're going to be in this for the long haul. All these young people will be driving some day, and hopefully they'll come to see us and Chevron."
During the past three years, San Ramon, Calif.-based Chevron has contributed nearly $100 million for education. Since its inception in 2010, Fuel Your School has funded more than 3,000 classroom projects at nearly 600 schools.