One Simple Crayon, One Big Shift. Our model is simple but our impact is extraordinary: by collecting gently used crayons from restaurants and hotels that distribute free crayons to children when they dine, that would have otherwise been thrown away after a single use, we intervene in a cycle of waste that has existed for decades. We save an extraordinary tool of expression, curiosity and learning – the crayon - and redistribute them to local classrooms across the country. As a formal partner of the National Head Start Association (NHSA), we ensure our crayons reach the neediest of classrooms through the network of more than 1 million children, 200,000 staff and 1,600 Head Start grantees across the United States. And our partnership with USA.com allows us to support Title 1 schools, America’s elementary programs that enroll children who are living under the poverty line.
While our partnerships with national restaurant and hotel chains offer tremendous impact and scale, allowing us to save millions of crayons from landfills each year, we also believe in a grass-roots collection model that engages families, children, and communities in philanthropy. The elegance of the Crayon Collection model lies in its simplicity – anyone can begin a collection through their local school, library, neighborhood Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts club, or faith community – and ensure these lightly loved crayons reach the hands of teachers and students in their local school.
The scale of the problem we seek to address is extraordinary: statistics show that while billions of crayons are produced each year, over 150 million crayons are discarded by more than 15,000 family style restaurant chains across the U.S. These gently used crayons end up in landfills where they never decompose, exacerbating an already critical environmental crisis. At the same time, classrooms across America are suffering from systemic budget cuts, forcing teachers to spend on average $750 of their own earnings for basic supplies. It is at this intersection of excess and need that we seek to offer a sustainable solution.