Teachers: Make Money for Classroom Supplies and Projects
Looking for a way to raise money for your classroom? (Or your child's classroom?)
As a teacher, I am always looking for ideas for stimulating projects and assignments for my students. I don't like to do the same thing year after year, and am always trying to improve my instructional methods.
This summer, I was assigned the advanced/gifted class at my grade level. I immediately began thinking of the possibilities of all the enriching projects and hands-on-activities my students could do as we made our way through the curriculum.
But, let's be realistic - everybody knows that teachers aren't exactly the highest-paid professionals. I teach at a Title I school. How am I going to make these ideas work?
While searching for some fresh, new project ideas on the Internet, I stumbled across a link to DonorsChoose.org. I had never heard of it, and decided to see what it was all about.
DonorsChoose.org is a not-for-profit web site that allows teachers to submit project proposals for materials or experiences their students need to learn. When projects are completed, or fully funded, the teacher and students are responsible for completing a thank-you follow up package to send to the donors. Completing the thank-you process in a timely manner allows teachers to submit more proposals in the future.
I decided to create an account with DonorsChoose and try writing a proposal. I thought a great way to begin my school year would be to improve upon a project I did last year.
Last year, at Open House, I asked all of my students to bring in a t-shirt so that we could decorate them and wear them every Friday and on special occasions such as award ceremonies, guest speakers, and field trips. The students and their parents seemed to like the idea so I actually had no problem getting them to bring shirts in. However, some brought brand new shirts, some brought in dad's old undershirts, some brought in tank tops, some brought in t-shirts that already had designs on them. It didn't matter, though; we used Sharpie markers to decorate our shirts and even though everybody had a different style of shirt, the idea was the same.
I really pushed the idea of "teamwork" throughout my classroom all last year. My students decorated their shirts to look like jerseys - they wrote their last name across the back and chose a number. On the front, they wrote our "team name" and we all signed each others' shirts. On Fridays, we all wore our shirts at school to show that our class was a team. We got lots of compliments from other teachers and the administration. The students loved the idea.
So, I began writing my proposal. I explained last year's project, and how I wanted to do it again, but this time, start the school year off by providing a shirt for every kid. Then I had to go shopping. DonorsChoose.org is partners with several stores and educational supply companies. To request your materials, you simply "shop online," through the DonorsChoose website, adding the materials you need to your shopping cart. Upon "checkout," your items are linked to your proposal, the total funds needed are calculated, and your proposal is just about done! I requested a variety of sizes of plain white t-shirts, fabric markers, and cardboard t-shirt forms to write on.
I was surprised that the cost had come to over $200 - there's no way I could have spent that much money on my own.
After browsing through the DonorsChoose website, I saw that a lot of the projects were funded by people the teachers probably already knew - friends, family, students' parents, etc. I did notice that some projects were funded by companies and corporations. Teachers' projects can range from $100 - $1,000, and yes, even some of the bigger projects get funded.
So, I sent an e-mail to all of my friends and family and asked them to visit the DonorsChoose website and check out my proposal. I attached a link in my e-mail signature so that every time I send an e-mail, people are reminded that I'm trying to raise money for my classroom.
Within a day, I received an e-mail from DonorsChoose, saying that my project "We've Got Spirit, Yes We Do!" had been fully funded and that my materials would ship in September - perfect for a "back to school" project. I couldn't believe it!
My students and parents were very excited when I announced this project to them at this year's Open House. They were surprised to hear that I earned the money over the summer, and probably relieved that they wouldn't have to contribute one more thing after doing all of their back-to-school shopping!
The shirts were a big success again - we wear them every Friday and the students love to show off. They are proud to be in my classroom and to be a part of our team - which is what I had intended all along.
After completing a project, teachers and students are required to submit a thank-you package including notes from both the teacher and students. DonorsChoose sends you a disposable camera so you can document your project. Donors that give $100 will receive some of your pictures. (DonorsChoose requires that you get parent permission for photos, and that no school names, student last names, or classroom numbers appear in the photos or thank-you letters.) Completing the thank-you part of the project ensures that teachers will be able to submit future proposals.
Spread the word!
If you are a teacher, visit DonorsChoose.org today to find out how to get funding for projects for your classroom. If you're a parent, mention DonorsChoose to your child's teacher!
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