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WAMU Community Minute: Supply Our Schools
August 1, 2010

Supply Our Schools was profiled in Community Minute on WAMU 88.5, the National Public Radio (NPR) station in Washington, DC. Here is a write-up about Supply Our Schools from the community minute page on the WAMU website (http://wamu.org/calendar/community_minute/schools.php):

Supply our Schools (SOS) is a non-profit organization that helps fight the declining budget of the public schools system. Essentially a gift registry for teachers in U.S. public schools, Supply our Schools provides teachers with the ability to specify what they need through their website. Any teacher in a U.S. public school can set up a supply list of items they need for their classroom. Donors can then buy whatever supplies they want for a teacher of their choice, and SOS will send the supplies directly to the teachers. Once the teachers receive the supplies, they can post thank you notes from their students, which are available for the donors to see. 100% of public donations received by SOS are used for buying school supplies.

Listen to the podcast here:

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The 3-minute interview: Radhika Murari
BY DAVID SHERFINSKI
The Washington Examiner
February 2, 2010

Radhika Murari View on washingtonexaminer.com

Murari is executive director of the Reston-based education nonprofit Supply Our Schools. Murari founded the organization, which has helped provide school supplies for more than 20,000 students in 40 states across the country, in October 2003.

How did you first become interested in education?

When I was 12, I went to India -- I'm of Indian descent -- and I noticed that there were big differences in the opportunities we get based on where you're born. And education is important. If a woman is educated up to eighth grade, her children are three times more likely to go to high school.

Where did you get the idea for SOS?

A few years ago, I bought a wedding present online, and [registering] is how I thought we could connect it to schools and teachers.

How does it work?

[Teachers] can build an online registry for anything they want. Donors come on and decide what they want to buy: "I want to buy one box of crayons, one copy of 'Jane Eyre', whatever." They pay through PayPal. When the teacher acknowledges receipt of the supplies, [the donor gets] a notification.

And the kids can post thank you notes?

Yes. Some of them are very funny. This little kid said, 'Even though I get tortured with math, I still thank you for the paper!' 'I don't really like to read, but I guess now I'll have to.' Some of these are priceless.

What kind of responses do you get from teachers?

[For example] -- 'I really thank you for this. For my children, the fact that someone out there who's never going to meet them cares about your education.' They see someone else cares, and they think, 'Wow! This [education] must be important!'

What have you gotten out of the endeavor?

This is what I wanted to do my whole life. So basically, if I die tomorrow I'll be happy that I have done this. So it's pure selfishness. Everything doesn't have to be for profit.

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Vienna Rotary Foundation Grant

ROTARY CLUB OF VIENNA, VA. FOUNDATION, INC.
PO BOX 545 Vienna, Virginia 22180

January 25, 2010

Radhika Murari. Founder/CEO
Supply Our Schools

Re: Vienna Rotary Foundation Grant

Dear Ms. Murari:

We are pleased to inform you that the Board of Directors has determined that your organization shall receive a grant for the calendar year 2010. The board is giving this grant for the purpose of helping school teachers have adequate supplies. The Board dispenses these funds during regular meetings of the Vienna Rotary Club. The Club meets every Wednesday at 12:15 PM at the Marco Polo Restaurant. Please contact Devika Gupta to arrange a time when you can come to a meeting to receive your organization's grant.

For calendar year 2010, the Board of Directors has approved the disbursement of $124,000 to 57 charitable, educational and governmental organizations. This amount was raised by the club's operation of the ViVa! Vienna! Festival. If there is any way your organization can assist with, or wants to participate in, the Festival, please let us know. We are always open to suggestions and new ways to promote our donee organizations in conjunction with the Festival.

Congratulations on your organization's grant. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Sincerely yours,

Matt Brennan, President
ROTARY CLUB OF VIENNA, VA. FOUNDATION, INC.

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Venable Foundation

November 6,2009

Radhika Murari
Executive Director
Supply Our Schools

Dear Ms. Murari:

We enclose our 2009 contribution from the Venable Foundation to support your mission on behalf of all those whom you benefit. We expect that you will use your best efforts to achieve your goals and do it effectively and efficiently.

On behalf of all our partners at Venable who fund the Foundation, we thank you for your special contributions to our communities.

Appreciatively,

Benjamin R. Civileni

David W. Rutstein

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Vienna Rotary Foundation Grant
View the scanned copy of the original

ROTARY CLUB OF VIENNA, VA. FOUNDATION, INC.
PO BOX 545 Vienna, Virginia 22180

January 7, 2009

Radhika Murari. Founder/CEO
Supply Our Schools

Re: Vienna Rotary Foundation Grant

Dear Ms. Murari:

We are pleased to inform you that the Board of Directors has determined that your organization shall receive a grant for the calendar year 2009. The board is giving this grant for the purpose of fulfilling its mission of helping schoolteachers have adequate supplies. The Board dispenses these funds during regular meetings of the Vienna Rotary Club. The Club meets every Wednesday at 12:15 PM at the Marco Polo Restaurant. Please contact Devika Gupta to arrange a time when you can come to a meeting to receive your organization's grant.

For calendar year 2009, the Board of Directors has approved the disbursement of $100,266 to 54 charitable, educational and governmental organizations. This amount was raised by the club's operation of the ViVa! Vienna! Festival. If there is any way your organization can assist with, or wants to participate in, the Festival, please let us know. We are always open to suggestions and new ways to promote our done organizations in conjunction with the Festival.

Congratulations on your organization's grant. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Sincerely yours,

Matt Brennan, President
ROTARY CLUB OF VIENNA, VA. FOUNDATION, INC.
View the scanned copy of the original

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Radhika Murari '95: Supplying our Schools BY SYLVIA CORNELIUSSEN
William and Mary Alumni Magazine

Radhika Murari

Imagine going to school without basic supplies like a pencil or notebook. When parents and schools can't afford to provide the staples for productive learning, children risk falling behind their peers attending schools in wealthier districts. According to national surveys, teachers spend an average of $1,000 annually out of their own pockets to help fill the gap.

Supply Our Schools (SOS), a nonprofit organization founded by Radhika Murari '95, seeks to provide children with the materials they need to succeed. "SOS is designed to perfectly match donors with the needs of students in under-privileged school districts," she explains.

Murari's desire to help children began when she was a young schoolgirl herself. At age 11, she moved with her family to India. "In India, poor people are living right next to rich people. It's very different from the United States," she says. Already academically ahead of many of her peers, Murari taught girls her own age basic reading and writing skills.

The idea for SOS came to her while taking care of a completely unrelated task: using an online gift registry to buy a wedding present for a friend. "The idea was so simple," says Murari, who had struggled for years to come up with an effective way for people to donate the supplies teachers and students really need. "Just like a bride and groom register for the gifts they want, SOS allows teachers to register for the supplies they need," she explains.

Taking the concept of the online gift registry, Murari created the SOS Web site (www.supplyourschools.org), complete with virtual inventory and secure logins. The site allows teachers to create a list of school supplies -- ranging from the basics, like pencils and paper, to technical items like calculators -- they need for their classes. Once the lists are complete, donors select the supplies they want to donate and provide payment information. SOS then purchases the donor's selected items from an online vendor and has them directly shipped to the classroom. In turn, the teacher lets SOS know the supplies have arrived and has students post thank you notes online.

After a summer of testing the software, SOS officially launched this fall. For its first run, Murari selected 12 Northern Virginia teachers to participate. She also solicited the assistance of five Starbucks Coffee store districts in Northern Virginia to help promote the nonprofit to potential donors.

SOS is not Murari's first entrepreneurial endeavor. As a graduate student at Georgetown University in 2002, she founded The Perfect Circles, a social networking service for Washington, D.C., area professionals. She was also the eighth employee of a Northern Virginia information technology company, which grew so quickly she was eventually managing more than 1,200 people.

Whatever her work, there is one principle Murari sticks to: "No matter what you do, it needs to have a social component." And she has one guideline for what she takes on: "Only bite off what you can chew - maybe a little more, but don't choke on it!"
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