“Students Helping Students is a non-profit group that is working to reform and improve education in Philadelphia…with help from Saint-Gobain.
The organization helps large corporations to donate their unneeded extra supplies and furniture to low-income schools in Philadelphia. The organization began in 2005 when Bill Zandi, then a high school freshman, volunteered in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. “After seeing the devastation in New Orleans I immediately wanted to do something to help, says Bill. That something was the creation of Students Helping Students. Since the founding of SHS ten years ago, Bill and his partner, Mike Chawaga, SHS chief operating officer, have been able to engineer the donation of thousands of dollars of furniture and supplies from companies like Saint-Gobain to schools in Philadelphia and in other regions.
The move of Saint-Gobain‘s headquarters from Valley Forge to the new Malvern offices created a great opportunity to begin a relationship between the company and SHS. Saint-Gobain became the group’s first corporate partner.
SHS helped Saint-Gobain to donate 27 white boards, approximately 80 printers and hundreds of stationery supplies (total value more than $16,000) to several schools in Philadelphia…material that otherwise might have gone to a landfill.
“We wanted our move to be sustainable—just like the building–so finding a way to reuse items that we were not taking with us was important,” says Tamara Mueller, manager of change management and communications. “Giving these items to schools in need solved many problems, not just our own.. Some of the students helped unload the truck, and were excited they would have supplies for the new school year. It felt good to give and be a part of something so important.”
“It’s cool to see how something that was going to be thrown out became something really valuable to students and teachers in school,” says Mike Chawaga.
“We believe working with Saint-Gobain was a successful prototype that can be scaled across other corporations looking to get rid of materials,” says Bill.”
Felicia Melvin, Saint-Gobain Communications Specialist