Chris Lam, owner of Papa Murphy's Pizza at San Leandro's Greenhouse Plaza, is doing more than serving take 'n' bake pizza. He's showing students that doing well in school can reap some cheesy, delicious rewards.
Each week, hundreds of students in the and a few from the receive "student of the week" certificates he prints out as part of an incentive program Lam helped create in partnership with the schools.
“Education is very important to me. I have two daughters, 3 and 5, who attend San Leandro schools so I want to do everything I can to help,” Lam said.
Students also receive a free food item ranging from side dishes to pizzas of all sizes. With their parents' permission, students can also get a photo taken with their award and have it posted on the store's wall of recognition.
Hundreds of photos currently cover the wall. Since the shop is small, the photos are rotated as new students are awarded.
After opening the store earlier this year, Lam said he began doing incentive programs by the end of last school year.
It all started with the "edible bookmark program," where parents would sign off a bookmark for every book their child finished reading. After parents finished signing off six bookmarks, the student could come into the store to be awarded a free one-topping mini pizza.
“I worked directly with several schools and their administrators on this program," Lam said. "Since teachers and schools are unable to supervise students reading over the summer, we put the trust in their parents to encourage their students to read.”
He continues to work closely with school administrators and teachers from several elementary schools which include: , , , , , and Elementary Schools. Lam also works with and recently began an incentive program with .
His incentive programs change over time to meet the needs of the schools and their students. His latest program awarded students a free one-topping medium pizza worth $9.
“Each school knows what’s best for their student so we let teachers and school administrators decide who wins,” Lam said.
About 700 awards and certificates for free food items are given away to students each month. Lam said his program has directly benefited 4,000 students in the nine schools so far but hopes to increase that number to 10,000 students from 16 schools in the near future.
“We’re committed to helping the students in our community succeed,” Lam said.
Before returning to the Bay Area to open Papa Murphy's, Lam was a commercial real estate investor in Portland, Ore. He said he moved back with the intent of opening the pizza shop and is happy it's doing well enough to be able to help thousands of local students.