EdRover: Using social media to fast track public school education

As powerfully demonstrated by films such as Waiting for Superman and Race to Nowhere, the U.S. public school education system is in desperate need of greater support and new thinking. A mother of three young boys, Tania Mulry, 37, has taken this issue head on by developing an iPhone app that makes school fund-raising quick, easy and effective.

Called EdRover, this new iPhone app will roll out early in 2011 allowing you to donate to your favorite school simply by checking in to local businesses through GPS. Moms, dads, students, relatives and community members can use it to find local stores that have signed up to make small donations to schools when people use the app to check in at their locations. For their part, businesses that contribute to the schools become part of the app that serves as an incentive for shoppers to come by.

Mulry explains the inspiration of the app this way:

When I took an inventory of my passions and problems that needed solutions, I sought a way to help kids across the US gain access to vital educational supplies and experiences, which presently are being cut furiously from state and federal budgets. Combining my experience in mobile marketing, passion for education and determination as a mother, I concocted a whole new approach to fundraising for education. And I knew that my contacts at large retailers would come in handy, too.

This is a truly inspired use of mobile technology and social media to engage a school’s community in a much needed free fundraising platform. Users will be able to choose from 99,000 pre-programmed schools to receive the donation from their check-in. As Mulry explains “There are 75 million students nationwide. Think about all the people they’re connected to.”

With this is mind EdRover stands as a powerful example of how to use social technology to leverage the community ties between us to address critical needs like public school education when traditional solutions are not solving the problem fast enough. If a mother of three young boys can find the time and energy to develop such an inspired and timely concept, my hope is that we can find the time to support her.

Do you think school communities can help solve the public school education funding problem? Or do you think its the sole responsibility of government and the National Union of Teachers?

NOTE: edRover will be available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad through the App Store, but anyone with a smart phone should be able to participate by the end of 2011.