Bouquets for Backpacks

August 7, 2017

This blog is written by our Co-Founder & CEO Steven Dyme.

In the summer of 2010, my cofounder Jo and I set out to sell a few dozen roses outside our old high school’s graduation. For each dozen sold, our plan was to donate a backpack with school supplies to one of the Chicago Public Schools students I tutored a summer earlier. Each donation would be made through Supplies for Dreams, the same organization that would inspire our name.

Parents loved it. And we did too. Making a little money for college and donating to a cause we cared about. The perfect win-win. Before long, several neighboring Chicago high schools got wind and we were invited to sell flowers at seemingly everyone’s commencement. Our friends started calling it “bouquets for backpacks” while we dubbed it “Roses4Dreams”. It was the start of a small business, our first flower business, and ultimately laid the foundation for what would become Flowers for Dreams two years later.

This month, we’re going back to those early days. Well, sort of. Since our launch in Milwaukee in February 2017 – our first market outside of Chicago – we’ve been working hard to engage some amazing Wisconsin charities and create the means to donate to them. Today, we’re ready to announce our first formal partnership. Fittingly, it involves a back-to-school drive, inner-city students in need, critical school supplies, and some amazing local partners that have done much of the heavy lifting already.

The program is called No Empty Backpacks.

An initiative dreamt up by our friends at Radio 88Nine Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Business Journal, No Empty Backpacks’ goal is to equip every Milwaukee Public Schools student with the school supplies they need to compete and achieve. It’s now in it’s second year and we’re hoping to amplify it in a big way. How? Every one of your Wisconsin bouquets – throughout the month of August – will donate a backpack with several folders, a notebook, pens, pencils, a ruler, and glue stick to a young MPS student in need. It’s a very small step to reduce the resource gap in our public schools, but for a few kids who’ve never owned a backpack, or have had to share a sibling’s used notebook every year, this will make a world of difference in helping them own their own education.

Whether you live in Chicago or Milwaukee, Naperville or Racine, we hope you’ll spread the word, send a bouquet, or donate unused school supplies at either of our locations. With your help, a simple idea that started with just a few dozen roses may well result in the donation of now 20,000 backpacks since 2010. All from the sale of flowers.

Join us on Thursday, August 17th in Milwaukee for a 414 Live for the ages. Bring a backpack and/or school supplies to Radio 88Nine’s station in Walker’s Point and you’ll leave with a free mini bouquet from the flower truck.

Photos courtesy of our good friends at Supplies for Dreams