July is all about the red, white, and blue, but as Round It Up America (RIUA) hits its five-year milestone this month, it’s also very much about the green. Yard House, which helped launch RIUA in 2010, has raised more than $2 million since the organization’s inception by inviting guests to “round up” their checks to the nearest dollar and donating the change to national and local causes. Yard House disperses its donations to its non-profit partners on a quarterly basis.
“Round It Up America started out as a very grassroots effort,” says Craig Carlyle, president of Yard House. “Food banks were being depleted, the homeless population was swelling, and splashy gala events weren’t really raising the funds and awareness as they had in the past. We thought people might be open to the idea of rounding up their checks and donating the leftover pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters to charity. It worked! Our guests are extremely generous.”
Yard House selected organizations with a focus on those that help victims of natural disasters, as well as active military and veterans. Food banks and education for the culinary arts are among the other important causes that benefit from RIUA. Among those who have benefitted with donations from Yard House guests are:
- More than 8,000 disaster victims have been assisted through more than $400,000 in donations to the American Red Cross and its National Disaster Relief, which offers shelter as well as food and emotional support to victims of disaster.
- More than 300 military families have been assisted from donations of approximately $300,000 to Operation Homefront, which provides emergency financial assistance, counseling, and recovery support to families of service members and wounded warriors.
- More than 2.5 million meals have been generated from more than $250,000 in donations to Feeding America and their sponsored food banks across the country.
- 270 scholarships have been awarded through the National Restaurant Association’s ProStart program with donations of more than $160,000. ProStart is a national career-building and job placement program for high school students interested in pursuing careers in the culinary arts and food service management
Dozens of other local charities throughout the country have also benefitted from the $2 million raised at Yard House.
“The power of collective giving is incredible,” adds Carlyle. “The fact that our guests have raised so much money by simply rounding up their checks is amazing, and we couldn’t have done it without them. The program costs very little to operate with 91 cents out of every dollar going to some really great and worthwhile causes.”