In Minnesota, Redwood Valley High School put their sponsorship funds to good use to benefit not only the school, but the community as well.
“Five years ago, we bought our first Daktronics video display and audio system,” said Rick Ellingworth, Redwood Valley Superintendent, “and we didn’t want to spend the public’s tax dollars, so we went the private route. Andy Ourada and I contacted local businesses and in 3 weeks we found 24 business partners who entered an agreement providing $12,000 over 5 years, paying once or annually. We raised $288,000. We set aside funds to pay the operator (a technology teacher) and used the balance to pay for the equipment as well as pocket what was left over.”
Sponsorships typically cover the cost of the equipment in 3-5 years.
When it comes time to renew sponsorships, schools don’t need to set aside funding for equipment, as Daktronics displays last an average of 10 years, allowing schools to use sponsor revenue however they want.
“We are renewing sponsorships,” Ellingworth continued, “and we have the same number of partners. We still set aside money for operations but have the remaining money available to buy technology for the new Orrin Estebo Career Development and Training wing of our building. This project has given us the opportunity to take one, two or three steps up and be first class without spending a dime of taxpayer money. It’s a win for all of us; the community is excited, the partners are all happy and the kids will be thrilled at the new opportunities this wing will provide in the technology and trades fields.”
Technology always changes, affording prime opportunity for learning and there is a high demand for trade jobs. “We have an aging workforce that will phase out which needs to be replaced,” Ellingworth explained. “By offering classes in agriculture, business, robotics, construction trades, plumbing, electrical, welding, manufacturing and medical courses, we hope to keep local talent in Redwood Falls.” And, just like these hands-on jobs, students can now gain experience through firsthand practice with their video display.
How does Redwood Valley keep their sponsors so happy?
Redwood Valley has a contract with each sponsor that stipulates what they can expect in return regarding advertising. “Our technology class creates ads for each business,” Ourada commented. “Each ad is 8 seconds in length, and every event features every partner.”
“This is a business agreement, not a donation,” Ellingworth said. “They’re getting something in return for their support. In addition to running sponsor ads, we have a massive recognition board that sits beside the display listing each partner. We honored them at a community celebration and gave each a plaque to show our appreciation.”
“Include your community and give them ownership in what you’re doing. They’re proud of what we have and are willing to invest because of it.”Andy Ourada, Redwood Valley Activities Director
A community center attached to the high school serves people of all ages in the area. “With the addition of our new wing, we can now offer these new courses,” Ellingworth said, “so we think it will draw businesses or people into town. We are part of a very supportive community. I’m excited and proud of how far we’ve come.”
How does the school make good on showcasing the display for sponsors?
“We showcase our starting lineup, pan the crowd, have a dance cam, an ugly sweater cam, replays during time outs and during graduation we show pictures of each graduate as they cross the stage,” Ourada said. Students create special content for events in addition to ads, player bios and have the opportunity to make some money working the after-hours events, teaching them the value of a good work ethic.
“Some of what they do now helps them after high school. One of our former students is studying at North Dakota State University in a program for this kind of technology,” Ellingworth added. “We’re looking forward to seeing what our students do with these new opportunities.”
The town is happy, the school flourishes and the kids reap the reward of a broadened educational experience. The future looks bright in Redwood Falls.
Want to make sure you don’t leave any money on the table? Learn more about our Daktronics Sports Marketing team and let us set up a time to come talk.