Magazine article Techniques

Funding Classroom Projects

Magazine article Techniques

Funding Classroom Projects

Article excerpt

PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS IN THE UNITED STATES SPENT more than $1.33 billion out of pocket on school supplies and instructional materials in the 2009-2010 school year, according to the National School Supply and Equipment Association, which reports that teachers spent more than $350 on average from their own income on material for their classrooms. With school budgets growing even tighter due to our ongoing economic woes, teachers are likely to continue digging into their own pockets to purchase these supplies; however, there are a number of other options available to teachers for funding their classroom projects.

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Donations

Sometimes teachers have great ideas for projects, but they don't have the money to implement them. One of the best places to turn for help is Donors Choose. This online charity describes the way it works as "citizen philanthropy." On the site, public school teachers from all over the country post classroom project requests--ranging from books, musical instruments and technology, to field trips and class visitors. Potential donors browse the projects and select ones they find inspiring, and then donate to them in any amount. When a project reaches its funding goal, the materials are delivered to the school.

Since its founding in 2000--by a teacher of course--more than 170,000 projects have been funded and more than $70,000,000 dollars donated. Among the projects currently posted on the site are a number in culinary arts, including one for high school students at a school for the deaf and blind. A middle school teacher in a program that has been designated as career and technical education needs flip cameras to help her students with their presentation skills. A charter high school teacher needs a laptop for her students to build their business and entrepreneurial skills.

Donors Choose has an impressive list of supporting partners, including American Express, Chevron, HP, Disney, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Another nonprofit organization helping teachers and schools with donations is ClassWish. On this site, a teacher can create a "wish list" of supplies he or she needs for the classroom. A search tool on the site allows parents, alumni and other supporters to find a school and see exactly what is needed, and then they can make a contribution to help with the funding.

ClassWish offers options for contributing, such as workplace giving, businesses and community organizations "adopting" schools, and even eBay sellers donating percentages of their sales proceeds to their favorite schools and classrooms.

The National Teacher Registry is also a free service for schools and teachers, and it works in a similar way to registering for a wedding or baby shower. It is open to pre-schools, elementary, middle and high schools, as well as to colleges. Teachers create individual registries, and schools can and a National Teacher Registry link to their Web sites to provide information to parents and other supporters. The products available from the registry include books, multimedia, lab equipment and supplies, and safety equipment.

Grants and Awards

Sometimes funding is offered through an industry-based organization, so teachers may want to explore whether there are grants or awards available from an organization representing the field they teach. For example, the Biotechnology Industry Organization sponsors a project called "What Can Biotech Do For You? …

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