postheadericon Stayin' Alive to Fund School Technology

cdc14_120Some say the annual CDC (Corporate Development Committee of Lansing) dance and auction is the event of the season.  You'll get no argument from the crowd that packed the Lakewatch Inn this weekend for an evening of Saturday night fever.  This year there were three notable differences from past years: by 8pm there wasn't a single empty space in the parking lot.  The Lake Watch Inn was packed, making it almost impossible to walk through some areas.  And the usual auction tables were nowhere to be found, replaced by computer bidding stations.  (And a fourth thing: mullets!)

"The on-line auction was a success; especially considering that this is the first year we have done it," says CDC member Bonita Lindberg.  "Educating the community on the new format was an ongoing process.  In the end we had over 120 different bidders register and submit at least one bid."

With the two long side tables of auction items gone there was more room for revelers, and that was a good thing.  The 'CDC Back to the North 40 Dance Party' celebrated the 1980s with a darkened dance floor lit with dramatic disco lighting.  As always attendees dressed for the event.  '80s garb including wigs... and yes, some Lansing people were willing to be seen with mullets... prevailed, with plenty of people dancing to the beat.

Since it was founded in 1996 CDC has raised about a half million dollars, with all the proceeds going towards providing technology for the Lansing schools.  Each year the organization donates computers, smart boards, technology hardware and software and scholarships for students planning a career in technology.  Two years ago CDC donated two fully equipped 'Project Lead The Way' computer laboratories.

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The question for committee members each year is, how do you top a successful event?  This year part of the strategy was to open the event to people beyond the Lansing community.

"When the CDC met following the 2012 event we knew that if we were going to continue successfully raising money to meet our mission we would have to do something to freshen it up," Lindberg says.  "We moved to an early spring time in order to avoid many of the scheduling conflicts that has affected declining attendance.  We also wanted to make it more of a party that would draw people from outside of the school district.  Leo and Nicole at Lake Watch Inn are always terrific to work with.  They gave us permission to use the 'North 40' name and logo so we could establish a draw from the greater community.  They are also incredibly generous with their support of the CDC."

The strategy worked.  More than 300 tickets were sold at $20 per person, more than were sold for each of the past two event.  CDC members estimate that between ticket sales, auction proceeds and business sponsorships more than $23,000 was raised.

"The CDC dance was bigger than just a fundraiser," said Lansing Board Of Education President Glenn Swanson.  "In addition to raising money a lot of people got together and made connections they might not have had, both parent to parent and parent to teacher.  it was a nice community event."

CDC members work closely with Lansing teachers and technology staff to determine needs in the classrooms and the district in general.  Director of IT Michael Lockwood says he has approached the committee with a proposal to help fund fiber optic network connections between the school buildings because they are not eligible to receive state aid as other equipment is.  He says if the upgrades are funded the result will be multiple connections that are ten times the current speed with much greater bandwidth.  He noted this would improve connectivity for about 2,100 unique devices that connect to the school's wireless network per month, about 1,300 of them 'guest devices' such as private phones and tablets.

cdc14_auctionBidding was online this year, so you didn't have to attend the dance to get in on the auction. Computers were provided for on-site bidding throughout the night.

Auctioned items included wines and dinners, Jazzercize classes, a 20-person ice skating party, massages, art and jewelry, a pet photography session, sports equipment and camp, software, a Cargill mine tour, tickets to a Yankees baseball game and a 3-D printer, among other items.  Evidently having the items on display on tables wasn't missed.  Bidders embraced the new computer-based bidding.

"Not only did it attract local people who were interested in the auction but not able to attend, we also had several bidders from outside of New York State," Lindberg reports  "In the end we had 64 different packages featured on the site and they brought in more than $8000."

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