When Businesses and Nonprofits Join, Great Things Happen

In Pennsylvania, we have experienced a very difficult set of circumstances regarding the education of our students. Due to economic issues facing our state, over $800 million  has been cut from the educational budgets. These cuts have left our elementary, middle and high schools in financial crisis. The crisis resulted in the need to cut some programs and extra-curricular activities, and reduce staffing causing students who have special needs to struggle to get the services. Our districts just do not have the resources to meet the needs of all of their students.

Making a difference to a potential cycle of failure

Lakeside Educational Network and CIMA Network first annual golf outing
Lakeside provides four different alternative schools and a variety of other programs that serve approximately 1500 students each year who have special needs.

Lakeside provides four different alternative schools and a variety of other programs that serve approximately 1500 students each year who have special needs. Without help, these students would not be able to be successful. They would be struggling in their families and be headed towards dropping-out.  Potentially, they could be in a cycle of failure that could last the rest of their lives if it were not for the help of Lakeside staff. 

While we are pleased to have the impact that we do each year, the needs are far greater than our regional school districts can afford. Consequently, we are quickly coming to a point where we will struggle to get ahead of the needs of the many students in our region. It is a serious and perplexing problem.

CIMA Network’s commitment to help Lakeside

Several years ago, we began to reach out to a few individuals to help them launch a business, with a view for them to become supporters of our mission. One such company is called CIMA Network. CIMA Network is a  image-making and sign business that has accomplished some incredible projects. Their clients include national and regional companies such as Regal Cinemas, Raymour and Flanagan, and Pep Boys. CIMA Network’s first office was housed within our Lakeside administration offices, and from there they have built a successful small business. I applaud them for their hard work, commitment to their industry and to excellence in service to their clients. 

But more importantly, CIMA Network has committed a portion of their funds to support our students and the programs at Lakeside.  Each quarter they actually send us a portion of their profits. This week they also sponsored a golf tournament. Corporate sponsors, golfers and volunteers came together in this event to sponsor Lakeside’s programs designed for students with special needs. 

It was CIMA’s first sponsored event and a huge success. We had a great deal of fun and raised significant funding for our programs. We were also able to share how our programs impact our community and model how businesses and nonprofits work together. 

It takes an amazing amount of work to launch a business in such a difficult economy.  Yet, from day one, CIMA Network has maintained its commitment to donate part of their funds to our organization. These resources have been a great help toward assisting students who would otherwise be entrenched in a cycle of failure.

I am writing this post today (different from my usual topics) to commend and thank Bill Lockett and Keith Denny, who are primary owners at CIMA Network, for their support of our students. Their staff volunteered hours to coordinate this tournament then gave a full day of work to the event.  They have been models of business leadership with a true altruistic heart. 

CIMA Network is an inspiration.  I think their leadership, along with me, would challenge other businesses to support a credible and significant cause in their community, to really get behind it.  Our nonprofits are working to add value by answering needs of students and families. They deeply need the help of our business community in such hard economic times.

It is greatly encouraging to be with an entire community of businesses and sense the support of so many—even in a golf tournament. The funding is so helpful, but the support is just as meaningful to those of us who work diligently to make a difference in the lives of those who have been entrusted to us. 

Thank you CIMA Network for modeling to all of us what a successful business can achieve when core beliefs of helping those who have significant needs become part of their company’s values.

Imagine what we could achieve if other businesses would use their resources to help our communities mitigate some of our deepest social problems. I think it makes a huge difference to our families, children, schools and communities. Isn’t it inspirational to hear of such valiant efforts by talented and caring business professionals?

Gerry Vassar, President and CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

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