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Frequently Asked Questions

About Community Roots China (CRC)

What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
What is CRC and how was it started?
What are CRC's vision and mission?
What does CRC do?
What is CRC's organization structure and how does it operate?
What is the relationship between CRC and Shanghai Rende Foundation?
Is CRC cooperating with other organizations?
What is CRC’s development plan for the next five years?

Education Sponsorship Program Selection

How does CRC find and select the students/children being sponsored?
How does CRC decide which high schools to work with?
How do CRC select which provinces to go in to sponsor children's education?

Education Sponsorship Program Accountability

How does CRC make sure sponsorship money is really used for students?
How does CRC make sure students use the sponsorship money toward their education?

Education Sponsorship Program Process

Which provinces does CRC operate in?
What is the process to become an Education Sponsor?
What is CRC's financial process for Education Sponsorship? 
What percentage of the sponsorship fee goes to the student?
Can I select a specific student to sponsor?
What information will I receive about my sponsored student?
Can I contact my sponsored student?
Can I visit my sponsored student?

About Community Roots China (CRC)

What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

Corporate Social Responsibility (or CSR) is a corporation's initiatives to take responsibility voluntarily for the company's impact on social and environmental wellbeing in its global operations.

Aside from benefitting society, there are many reasons why it is beneficial for a corporation or business to be involved in CSR, including:  positive corporate image, publicity, employee engagement, involvement of key stakeholders, and attracting & retaining high quality staff"

What is CRC and how was it started?  

Community Roots China (CRC) was established in 2011 by Marie-Lucie Spoke, a Canadian who worked with the diplomatic service in 1980s and moved to Shanghai in 2006. CRC champions corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives to build bridges between Chinese communities and corporations operating in China. As a CSR agency, CRC provides corporate clients with impactful charitable programs and the training and assistance to implement them. CRC also provides individuals with the same opportunity to make a lasting difference.

When CRC's founder, Marie-Lucie Spoke, first began volunteering in Shanghai, she was involved with caring for migrant children. From there, she learned about the tremendous needs of rural left-behind children. In response to this, she founded CRC to rally national and multinational corporations and individuals to meet the needs of these impoverished children in rural areas.

What are CRC's vision and mission?     

CRC's Vision is to provide underprivileged children, born in rural areas, with the support and resources needed for education utilizing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) models.

CRC's Mission is to partner with like-minded corporations, organizations and individuals to provide pragmatic programs that will increase access to quality education for impoverished children in rural China.

CRC believes that access to high school education is the greatest challenge in China at this time, and CRC can help the corporations  impact the lives of children and the future of China.

What does CRC do?

CRC champions corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives to build bridges between Chinese communities and corporations operating in China. As a CSR agency, CRC provides corporate clients with impactful charitable programs and the training and assistance to implement them. CRC also provides individuals with the same opportunity to make a lasting difference.

CRC’s current focus areas are: Educational Sponsorship program, which covers tuition and boarding fees to enable impoverished children to attend high school or vocational school; and Bookworm program, which provides age-appropriate books to rural primary schools. "

What is CRC's organization structure and how does it operate?

CRC is a WFOE (Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise), incorporated in China as a consulting company. As such, CRC is able to work across China in multiple provinces, unlike traditional charities, which can only operate in the province or district they are registered in.  However, CRC operates on a not-for-profit basis, as a social enterprise, because the goal of CRC is to help impoverished students in China in partnership with corporations and associations. 

CRC has a Board of Advisors of 6 business people, 5 residing in China and one in Canada. The direction of CRC is endorsed by the Board of Advisors and implemented by the CRC team in China.

CRC partners with Shanghai Rende Foundation, a non-governmental charity foundation that is able to publicly fund-raise. This enables CRC to hold fundraising events, provide official donation receipt to corporations that endorse CRC's programs financially, and satisfy the corporations' compliance requirements.

What is the relationship between CRC and Shanghai Rende Foundation?

CRC partners with Shanghai Rende Foundation, one of the first non-governmental public fundraising charity foundations established in Shanghai.  Rende Foundation assesses and integrates CRC's charity programs under its umbrella and qualifies CRC as the execution partner for these programs.

Through CRC's partnership with Rende, CRC is able to fundraise through public events for the benefit the Education Sponsorship or Bookworm programs. All sponsorships are eligible for the official donation receipt."

Is CRC cooperating with other organizations?

CRC works with public organizations, private corporations and individuals to deliver Education Sponsorships and the Bookworm program.  You can see "Our Partners" page on the CRC website for more information.

What is CRC’s development plan for the next five years?

There is an increasing understanding of the importance of charity in China.  More and more compassionate people are seeing the needs of the poor, and eager to do something to help. As such, CRC plans to increase our partnerships with local corporations, organizations, and individuals to sponsor students in the countryside, whose economic conditions prevents them from finishing high school. We look forward to having more and more partners who will work with us for a more prosperous China.

Education Sponsorship Program Selection

How does CRC find and select the students/children being sponsored?

From 2011 to 2016, CRC operated the One Heart Gift Bag program, which delivered 42,500 gift bags full of supplies to impoverished children in over 18 provinces. Through this work, CRC got to know many trustworthy partners (field leaders) in the countryside, including teachers, principals, community workers and local non-profit agencies.

From these trusted relationships, CRC is able to identify students who wish to continue with their high school education but are in dire need of financial support.  In general, the students are from impoverished families, and are either an orphan/living with a foster family, have absentee parents, and/or have a parent who is ill or handicapped. Though they have the desire to continue their education, the students are unable to afford the tuition and boarding cost for high school as these costs amount to more than 50% or even 100% of the family’s annual income.  Without the Education Sponsorship, these students are condemned to a life of subsistance living with no hope for advancement in society. 

The field leaders provide CRC with each student's details, including their ID, Bank Account information, the school they are attending, their grade, as well as their personal history that details why they need assistance and how they will benefit from sponsorship. This information is shared with the Sponsors once they confirm sponsorship.

Sponsors can be assured that the students they help are truly in need of support, and will receive information on their family background and personal circumstances upon confirmation of sponsorship. 

Twice a year, CRC visits the students and field leaders in the countryside  to better understand their challenges and encourage them. CRC also invite sponsors to join them on these trips to meet the students personally and gain deeper knowledge of the hardships the students in the countryside experience.

How does CRC decide which high schools to work with?   

CRC does not work with individual high schools as a whole. CRC works with our partners in the countryside (field leaders) who identify the poorest students in any particular school. The field leader is either a teacher, a school principal, a community worker or a representative of an NGO. The field leader knows the families and the circumstances of each student and presents their case for sponsorship on an individual basis.

How do CRC select which provinces to work in?           

CRC ensures that we operate in the most accountable and transparent manner. For this reason, we only operate the Education Sponsorship in areas that:
(a) Is an impoverished area with deep needs, and
(b) CRC have existing relationships with trusted and reliable partners (field leaders), who may be teachers, principals, community workers, or local non-profit agencies.

CRC focuses on the rural provinces and does not work in coastal provinces which tend to be better off economically. The exception is Fujian, where CRC has sponsored a foster home since CRC's inception.

Education Sponsorship Program Accountability

How does CRC make sure sponsorship money is really used for students?

CRC ensures that each student has his or her own bank account. CRC verifies that the account information matches the ID of each student. CRC then transfers sponsorship money directly to the student's verified bank account. This process ensures that students receive the money directly without third party interference.

How does CRC make sure students use the sponsorship money toward their education?

From the reports of CRC’s trusted field leaders, we know the circumstances of the impoverished students we help. The students CRC endorses are unable to afford school tuition, boarding costs, and associated living expenses without additional support. The sponsorship ensures that the student can continue courageously with their studies despite any other family challenges they might have in their lives. Our field leaders keep CRC informed of any changes in the students' circumstances and whether or not they continue to attend school. At the end of the year, the leaders also send the students' report cards so CRC can verify their continued involvement in school.

Education Sponsorship Program Process

Which provinces does CRC operate in?           

CRC currently operates the Education Sponsorship program in 8 provinces where we have trusted field partners: Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Fujian and Inner Mongolia.

What is the process to become an Education Sponsor?    

Becoming a Sponsor is simple!

  • The sponsor transfers money directly to CRC, or through Shanghai Rende Foundation, CRC's Chinese charity partner, depending on whether the Sponsor requires an official donation receipt for income tax purposes.
  • CRC matches the Sponsor with a student based on the requirement of the Sponsor (province, gender and grade).
  • CRC or Shanghai Rende Foundation transfers the funds directly to the bank account of the student, less management fees;
  • A proof of transfer with the name of the student is forwarded to the Sponsor;
  • CRC provides each Sponsor with the student’s life story and family background, a personal letter from the student, as well as the student’s report card for the school year;
  • CRC invites Sponsors to visit the students to see their environment and learn more about the challenges they face.

What is CRC's financial process for Education Sponsorship?

CRC's financial process for Education Sponsorship is completely transparent. Once CRC receives funds from a sponsor, the funds are transferred directly to the student's bank account, less administration fees. CRC then forwards the confirmation of money transfer to the sponsor.

What percentage of the sponsorship fee goes to the student?    

CRC endeavours to minimize the admin costs as much as possible so as to maximize the Sponsorship's impact. Currently, 90% of the funds go directly to the students, with the remaining 10% allocated to our countryside partners to enable information gathering and CRC’s administration costs. 

Can I select a specific student to sponsor?    

CRC Sponsors are able to indicate the specific province, grade, and gender of the student they wish to sponsor as long as CRC has a presence in that province. CRC will do its best to match the Sponsor with a student that fits the Sponsor's desired criteria, and if not possible will submit an alternative to the Sponsor. Currently, CRC works in 8 provinces, namely Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu, Qinghai, Inner Mongolia and Fujian.

What information will I receive about my sponsored student?    

Once a sponsorship match is confirmed, CRC will send the Sponsor the student's photo and description of the family background. The Sponsor will also receive a personal letter from the student and will be provided with the student's report card so the Sponsor can follow the progress.

Can I contact my sponsored student?

CRC encourages Sponsors to have direct contact with the students they sponsor where possible, so as to encourage and support them through their school year. The communication between student and Sponsor may be limited by accessibility to a phone or the internet according to the high school or family situation.

Can I visit my sponsored student?        

CRC typically visit students in the countryside twice year and encourages Sponsors to join CRC on these trips. It is very meaningful to meet the students in person, learn about their lives, their environment and their challenges both for the Sponsor as well as the sponsored students.

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