Jesse Riley teaches STEM and environmental stewardship while raising money for schools with SongBird Creations

SongBird Creations is putting an environmental spin on school fundraising.

The start-up partners with schools to help students raise funds for STEM-oriented projects.

How the process works is schools partner with SongBird for a fundraising effort, and students sell monthly subscription boxes to friends, family, and neighbors and community members. Money from the sales then goes toward STEM projects the students and their schools want help funding, whether that’s building pollinator boxes on campus or buying 3D printers, or any other academically enriching science.

The subscription boxes contain an artistically sculpted birdfeeder made out of a molded chunk of birdseed, as well as other environmentally minded knick knacks, all seasonally themed.

SongBird Creations is the brainchild of Jesse Riley, who will present about the company at 1 Million Cups Fargo on October 10. He and a friend came up with informally the idea six or seven years ago, but he only began working on building a business around it in earnest after entering into NDSU’s Innovation Challenge this year. The Challenge helped Riley build a team for the fledgling company.

“It brought the idea to a group of likeminded individuals,” Riley said.

In addition to the fundraising opportunity they offer, SongBird Creations also participates in STEM education themselves by bringing lesson plans that educators can use in the classroom, per Riley.

“They were interested in how we could engage in active learning and project-based learning,” Riley said.

The idea is that the projects students are working on and fundraising toward, as well as the STEM and environmental topics they are learning about in the classroom, can become students’ sales pitches when they are out selling subscriptions in the community.

He and the SongBird Creations team are now working on the steps necessary to bring their idea to market. They have been contacting schools and telling them what they do. The business is geared toward students from elementary to high school.

Before they can bring their concept to market, Riley said he and his collaborators will need to construct a web platform for the business.

“What we lack is how to bring it online, how to set up a platform that our sellers can refer people to,” Riley said.

Both Oak Grove and Moorhead Middle School have said they would participate once the product is ready.

SongBird Creations subscriptions cost $32, and the schools get $10. SongBird Creation earns about $4 of profit, per Riley, and the rest of the price covers costs. The majority of the proceeds go to the students involved.

Jesse Riley will present on SongBird Creations at 1 Million Cups Fargo on October 10. For more information on SongBird Creations, visit the company’s website, SongBirdcreation.wordpress.com. For more information on 1 Million Cups Fargo, visit www.emergingprairie.com.