Growing up, Lisa Schomp hated school, she says.
"I didn't feel like I learned anything," says the 59-year-old president of Schomp Automotive, which operates Honda, BMW and Mini stores in the Denver suburb of Littleton.
But these days her passion is education. She funds a variety of programs proposed by teachers to help kids learn practical skills such as simple math, balancing a checkbook and personal hygiene.
"Anything I can do now to make school more pertinent for a young person makes sense," says Schomp, who did not attend college. "Not all kids go to college, but they still need to be equipped to survive."
Here's how it works: K-12 teachers in Douglas County (which includes Littleton) propose specific programs to education foundations associated with the school district.
The foundations forward the proposals to Schomp, who decides which will receive grants. The amounts range from several hundred dollars to several thousand. The dealership group funnels about $40,000 annually through the foundations.
More than a decade ago, Schomp provided a $15,000 grant to the then-struggling Littleton Public Schools Foundation. Among its projects these days are districtwide wireless Internet access and laptops for students in classrooms.
Schomp also supports an anti-bullying program through the Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network; and music, drama, dance and literacy programs in the schools.
"I've gotten very pointed" with my donations, she says. "You can spend money on a lot of stupid things when you're in business."