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Target Axes Program That Gave Millions To Schools

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Beginning next spring, Target will end a program that has given millions of dollars to schools across the U.S.

The company notified schools Monday that it will end its Take Charge of Education project.

Since 1997, it's estimated the program has given more than $430 million to tens of thousands of schools.

Target customers have been able to help the school of their choice. One percent of every REDcard holder's purchase has gone to their favorite school.

"We could use money," said Darren Yerama, principal at Expo Elementary in St. Paul. "Absolutely. We could always use money. We've received checks every year that I've been doing it."

Yerama said the school has received two checks each year, totaling a few thousand dollars. And the Take Charge of Education money has helped students who need it most.

"We have students who come without school supplies and so we'll purchase additional school supplies so they have tools to use," Yerama said. "We also use it to purchase classroom libraries, so teachers can buy leveled books for students to read."

A spokesman for Target said the corporation will now shift its focus to health and wellness programs. Target said they are still trying to figure out partners and are ironing out details, but the new program could center on healthy eating, active living and clean label products.

Expo, like a lot of other schools, will now look at creative ways to make up the money lost from Target's decision.

Yerama said that could include more fundraising to help pay for school supplies and books. While every dollar counts, Yerama said he understands what Target is doing.

"It's sad that part will end," he said. "We will have to find other ways to fill in the gap. But I also understand that Target is a business and they have a business plan and they need to follow that."

Target said schools received an average of $370 a year from the program.

Target will officially end the program on May 14, 2016.

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