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Schools Clean House While Raising Funds

Getting rid of excess equipment and materials is no longer a headache for school administrators, thanks to the unique logistics and brokerage firm InterSchola.

InterScholaThe company’s primary goal is helping school districts dispose of unneeded materials while generating much-needed revenue. This is accomplished by selling the equipment to third-party buyers.

“I was having lunch with some friends who work in education and simply asked them what they did with the desks, books and computers that they routinely turn over,” said InterSchola Founder and President Melissa Rich. “I was told about a private school that was getting new desks and placed the old ones outside for removal. I thought it was unfortunate that there wasn’t some way for a lower-income district to get them.”

Rich took the idea a step further by envisioning a system where for pennies on the dollar, schools could purchase perfectly functional equipment that was better than their current equipment. It was at this point that Rich contacted two former colleagues and began writing a business plan.

When Rich pitched InterSchola to executives at eBay, the world’s largest auction marketplace, her idea received strong support. With a unique business model that leveraged the strength of the eBay platform and community, Rich built a company to help K-12 districts extract value from their surplus.

In addition to helping schools eliminate unneeded equipment ranging from basic desks and simple phone systems to industrial ovens and vehicles, Rich is particularly proud of the organization’s pro-business and pro-environment track record.

“Many of our buyers are business owners looking to outfit their operation,” Rich said. “We have folks starting a small business who purchase computers, phone systems, desks—everything they need to get up and running. With InterSchola, they’re able to do it at a fraction of the cost of buying it new. We’re also taking all of these things that otherwise would end up in a landfill and giving them new life, so there is a decidedly ‘green’ aspect to this business.”

While InterSchola is a relatively young company launched in 2004, the firm’s management team has significant collective experience working with education institutions.

“We are well versed in what it takes to successfully sell these types of items for these types of institutions,” Rich said. “We understand that schools’ equipment was purchased with public dollars and that there are levels of compliance that must be adhered to when selling them and generating additional funds.

That is what makes InterSchola so attractive, I believe. We take on all of the work. We inventory everything, market it, sell it and arrange the shipment or pickup. We love nothing more than writing a big check to a district and knowing that all of that money is going into their general fund and will directly help students.”

With a proven business model and several happy clients in six states, InterSchola has its sights set on expansion.

“We have clients in California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Florida,” Rich said. “But ours is a service that we realize has demand nationwide. There are districts in Montana and Utah and Kansas that are sitting on the same problem our current client were sitting on a few years ago, which is, ‘What are we going to do with this stuff?’ So one of our goals is to be able to quickly expand nationwide.”

Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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