What are Box Tops?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2019
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Box tops may mean little to some people, but to teachers, schools, parents and students, they have become an excellent means of raising money. In 1996, the company General Mills launched the Box Tops for Education program. It was at first restricted to California.

With the basic program, families clipped the box tops off of cereal boxes, just a few types initially, and collected them for schools. Schools would then send in the tops or the little logo from the tops, and earn a small amount of money for each top. Usually this amount was only about a tenth of a dollar, but schools that were hurting for money could still make a little bit without parents having to spend anything more than they normally would.

The Box Tops program quickly expanded to include many other food brands and some brands of other products, like sandwich bags and feminine products. This significantly increased the amount of money that schools could raise through this program. The financial results of this program were fairly astounding. By 2004, families had saved and schools had turned in one billion box tops. In 2008, the program had disbursed $250 million dollars.


As of the late 2000s, over 90,000 schools participate in the Box Tops program. Eligible schools include any in the US that teach any of the grades K-8. Private and public schools can join the program, and even home school associations with 15 or more students are usually eligible to join. The program also accepts US military schools located worldwide.

One thing needed to make a Box Tops program successful at your school is a volunteer willing to take the time to send in all the collected tops on a regular basis. This person is usually called a coordinator and it should be someone dependable. It also helps to make sure that all parents know the program exists at the school so they can start saving the tops or logos.

In addition to collecting tops from a wide selection of grocery store items, which are labeled so people know which products to save, there are other ways to earn money. On the Internet site for this program, you can read about their marketplace, which is a new way to shop at a discount for school purchases with revenue earned. Also, certain stores like Barnes & Noble donate a percentage of your purchases to your school, if you let them know the school is a program participant.

Though it can take some organization and time to get one of these programs going, it really can benefit your school. Just how much benefit a school receives from this will depend on the organization skills of the coordinator and the participation of students and parents. With many schools struggling to meet financial obligations, the Box Tops program may help a little in providing some funds for school needs.


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Post 2

I have been saving the box tops for over a year now for my son. Once he reaches 40 box tops, he turns them in and gets a free dress day at school. He loves that because, like many kids, he hates wearing a school uniform. Every time we go to the grocery store, he is looking for any box top for education products.

I think that it is a great way to motivate kids and help their school at the same time.

Post 1

Very good and accurate answer!

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