Friday, December 12, 2008

Shop To Earn Makes Headlines

Check out today's Shop To Earn media coverage in the Ponte Vedra recorder. See the full story below.

Nease Rocks the World of Online Shopping

Holiday shopping is a hassle. Sure it’s fun searching for the perfect gift, but who really wants to battle traffic, crowds and screaming kids?

Nease High School has found a way around that little snag. The school partnered with Shop to Earn, a web portal which allows shoppers to give back to the school while shopping for the things they need.

"The website was something that was brought to me by a parent," said Aletha Dresback, International Baccalaureate coordinator at Nease. "She knew that with all of the financial cutbacks the school had this past year the schools need to try new ways of raising money."

That parent was Loribeth Visconti. Visconti, whose son attends Nease, said she first got wind of Shop to Earn through a neighbor.

"She was active in my Relay for Life team," said Visconti. "We were trying to figure out what to do for fund-raising and thought this would be perfect."

"I thought, the high schools are always getting gypped with money," she said. "Teenagers spend their own money on things. This has a lot of the stores teens shop at."

Dresback said the idea was initially something the school wanted to do for the International Baccalaureate program, but they felt that the entire school could benefit from it as well.

"We established www.neaserocks.com," she said. "I did almost all of my Christmas shopping online this year. Each store has a percentage that they give back to the owner of the site, in this case Nease."

Shop to Earn was founded in 2006 by Pat Welsh. The mission statement of the company is to empower people to choose a lifestyle of better health and increased wealth. It seeks to do this through alliances with "green" companies and paying a percentage of cash back through the portal in the hopes of creating a increased wave of green awareness.

According to Sarah Van Elzen, interactive producer for the Buyer Group who handles publicity for Shop to Earn, said the site has seen a tremendous amount of growth in the last year.

"There are currently 70,000 members and Shop to Earn hopes to expand to 100,000 by the end of the year," Van Elzen said.

Shop to Earn has links to popular women’s and men’s clothing stores like Banana Republic, Aeropostale, Bluefly.com, Converse and Eddie Bauer. Each store gives a specific percentage of the purchase back to the owner of the portal, for example Banana Republic gives two to four percent back to Nease if an item is purchased through Neaserocks.com. In addition to apparel, sites such as Apple, Best Buy and Office Depot are also available to shop through.

Visconti said she purchased the domain name for Nease and they will have the portal for a year. Any money generated through the site goes into an account for the school.

"The challenge is getting people to take that step to log onto the site [before they do their online shopping]," she said. "Nease is a really good school for that. They will catch on quick."

Visconti said Neaserocks.com has been active for about 4 weeks. Dresback said sales have been slow, but the so far the portal has raised about $100 for the school.