Operation Round Up: Small Change, Big Difference

classroom with students raising their hands

While providing electric service is the most important part of the cooperative mission, it’s far from the only work cooperatives do. At Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative, we take our involvement in the community seriously. That’s why, starting next year, we will launch an Operation Round Up® program to help members support local schools.

Operation Round Up® rounds monthly electric bills up to the nearest dollar and puts that change into a cooperative fund, which can make a significant difference in the community.

SVEC’s Operation Round Up® Foundation will support the needs of teachers in local schools, a cause that Foundation Board President George Scott believes everyone can get behind.

“I think the average person supports education, and this gives them a tangible way to contribute in a painless way,” he says. “Each person will contribute what represents a very small amount of money, but is collectively really going to be beneficial.”

Most importantly, the board includes several representatives with experience in education who will be able to speak about practical ways to help our schools. Schools across the country are in need of additional funding to pay for supplies and to provide the quality of education all students deserve. Schools in the Suwannee Valley are no different, which is why SVEC will put all money raised through Operation Round Up® toward grants that will benefit students in the classroom.

“Classrooms often have small needs that aren’t provided for in the school budget,” says Scott. “Those are the needs we’ll be able to meet, and it will be exactly what the teachers ask for and principles approve.”

The goal is to raise $60,000 a year to give schools throughout the Suwannee Valley the resources they need to prepare our students for the challenges of tomorrow.

What is Operation Round Up®?

One of the pillars of the cooperative model is neighbors helping neighbors, and Operation Round Up® is one way that SVEC members can make a big impact in their community without breaking the bank.

The program works by automatically rounding up participating members’ monthly electric bills to the next dollar. For example, a bill of $63.47 would be rounded up to $64, with the extra 53 cents going into the Operation Round Up® fund.

While an individual member’s donation amounts to pocket change each month, the program allows SVEC to collect an average of $6 for each participating member annually. Together, those donations add up.

The Operation Round Up® program is not a new idea. It first started at Palmetto Electric Cooperative in South Carolina, where they launched the program in 1989 as an easy way for members to contribute to those in need.

“The average person supports education, and this gives them a tangible way to contribute in a very painless way. Each person will contribute what represents a very small amount of money, but collectively it’s really going to be beneficial.”

— George Scott, Operation Round Up® Foundation Board President

With nearly 68,000 members who can participate in the program, Palmetto Electric Cooperative has contributed more than $7.6 million in grants to worthwhile charities, service organizations and individuals. In 2016 alone, that cooperative collected $257,985, which it dispersed within its service area.

Since its founding in South Carolina, Operation Round Up® has become so popular that nearly 350 cooperatives throughout the country have adopted similar programs as a way to give back to their own communities. In fact, 11 of the 14 electric cooperatives in the state of Florida participate in Operation Round Up® or a similar program. While the funding objectives of these programs vary from co-op to co-op, SVEC believes the entire community benefits from good schools and quality education.

When Will SVEC Start Rounding Up?

The schools in our area have significant funding needs that the combined small contributions of our members could help meet.

For that purpose, SVEC will begin its own Operation Round Up® program in January 2019. Beginning that month, participating members’ bills will be rounded up to the next dollar.

Who Decides Where Operation Round Up® Funds Go?

Children raise their hands while seated in a classroomOnce donations have been collected, the teachers from local schools will be able to submit applications for projects or supplies, and the Operation Round Up® board will screen those applications to decide which grants will be awarded.

The foundation board consists of nine directors, one appointed by each member of the cooperative’s board of trustees. Each board member brings their own experience in education and business to the board. Decisions on funding will be made collectively by the board and with the best interest of the community and its schools and teachers in mind.

Do I Have To Participate In Operation Round Up®?

While we hope all of our members will want to take part in this program, participation in Operation Round Up® is entirely voluntary.

Initially, all SVEC members will be enrolled unless they choose to opt out. Any members who do not wish to participate can opt out at any point over the next six months by contacting the cooperative and letting us know they do not want their bill rounded up at the end of each billing cycle.

In addition, if a member decides to opt out after the Operation Round Up® pro- gram begins in January 2019, SVEC will, at the request of the member, refund up to 12 months of the donations collected from them.

For more information about Operation Round Up®, how to apply for funding, or to opt out of the program, please call 800-447-4509 or 386-362-2226.

Board members are listed in Operation Round Up Board Members.