BOARDMAN, Ohio (WWYTV) – School classrooms are always in need of supplies. The mounting costs can be a big expense for families and teachers. Now, more educators are taking advantage of a program where donations can be sent electronically, directly to the classroom.
DonorsChoose.org was started in 2000 by Charles Best, a teacher in the Bronx. He realized teachers spend a lot of their own money to make sure students have the things they need and knew there were people out there who could help. Almost 16 years later, more than $400 million has been donated to help public schools across the country.
The program is like a GoFundMe account, but DonorsChoose.org is a non-profit for educators. Teachers can make a wish list of resources they’d like in their class. Each request is vetted by a group of volunteer teachers and once the request is cleared, it is posted to the website.
The proof of how the program works is sitting at Glenwood Middle School in Boardman. The 3-D printer in Eric Deifenderfer’s 7th grade science class was purchased with money raised through DonorsChoose.org. The printer costs about $1,000, but the money to buy it was raised in less than seven days.
“It puts the technology in student’s hands and is one of the latest pieces of technology out there,” Deifenderfer said.
Deifenderfer also needed mice for Chromebooks in his classroom and went to DonorsChoose.org.
“A random donor from Texas made a donation toward the computer mice. A random woman from Colorado made a donation,” Deifenderfer said.
The donations were acknowledged by Deifenderfer’s students with thank you notes.
DonorsChoose.org Director of Communications Chris Pearsall said the program also works with large retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy to help fill requests in the classroom, along with specialized companies.
“We have relationships with over 20 vendors,” Pearsall said. “That basically mean teachers can ask for almost anything they can possibly dream for their classroom.”
First year Fitch High school geology teacher, Kalee Rimer, would like new geology kits and a stream table in her class. She received over $200 from random organizations and people who are just looking to help out. Rimer still needs $815 dollars for her project and is optimistic she’ll get it.
Teachers can share pictures or posts with donors so they can see exactly how their dollars are being used in classrooms. Projects stay on the website for up to four months.
If a project is not funded, the money is returned to donors in a form of a credit.
DonorsChoose.org will also work with teachers to modify a project and let them re-post it.