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,” said 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, include:
• 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,” added 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.”
Guests who want to round up when visiting Yard House can ask their server or bartender for more details. For additional information regarding Round It Up America®, visit www.rounditupamerica.org.
About Yard House
When Yard House opened in 1996 in Long Beach, California, it revolutionized the restaurant industry by creating a 250-tap draft beer system. Nearly 20 years and 59 restaurants later, Yard House still leads the way with great food, classic rock and a vast selection of draft beer while evolving into an award-winning dining destination known for its menu of American favorites, crafted cocktails and endless fleet of tap handles featuring the best American craft beers and imports. The exhibition kitchen creates more than 100 items made from scratch infused with quality ingredients and globally-inspired flavors. The menu includes everything from shareable plates and appetizers to grilled burgers, steaks and seafood. Each Yard House has its own distinct beer list with a handful of taps reserved for local and regional brewers along with an offering of seasonal and small-batch selections as part of its rotating “Chalkboard Series.” The glass-enclosed keg room showcases hundreds of steel barrels containing some 4,000 gallons of beer that flow to the center island bar through an extensive network of tubing positioned overhead. From there the beer is fed to the taps where it’s served ice-cold by the pint, 9-ounce shorty, goblet or half-yard glass container. Yard House is also well-known for its classic and alternative rock boasting a library of 5,000 songs with each location having its own distinct playlist. Yard House is open daily for lunch, dinner and late-night dining.
Round It Up America® was founded by Harald Herrmann, president of Darden’s Specialty Restaurant Group, which owns Yard House, and Jennifer Weerheim, vice president of brand management for Yard House. The two collaborated and formed RIUA in 2010 after hearing reports of food bank shelves being depleted due to the economic downturn. Today, RIUA has hundreds of “Mission Partners,” including restaurants and hotels that are now inviting their guests to “round up” and have selected their own local charity partners. With every dollar donated to RIUA, a minimum of 91 cents goes to the charities directly which includes everything from health and educational funds to bat conservation and preserving the traditions of local Native American tribes. Donations are granted to vetted organizations on a quarterly basis.