Teachers using crowdfunding to pay for classroom extras

Published: Sep. 6, 2018 at 4:33 PM CDT
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At a time when school budgets are as tight as ever, teachers are thinking outside of the box and using crowdfunding to get extra supplies.

Student are no longer just learning reading, writing, and arithmetic in school. Technology and hands-on learning now play a huge role.

According to Horace Mann Middle School teacher Michelle Marchionda, "We run a coffee shop here for social skills to get our kids out and about and meeting new people, so an industrial coffee maker is something I asked for."

But with tight budgets, the industrial coffee pot isn't something the district could buy, Marchionda turned to the non-profit website donorschoose.org. It's like a GoFundMe page for teachers and their class.

"It has to be something that would benefit a group of usually, 15 or more kids. And then it goes through a process where someone at Donors Choose, approves it," says Marchionda.

A quick online search of districts in Northeast Wisconsin, with projects registered on donors-choose, uncovered several hundred projects. The Neenah School District has more than two dozen.

Diane Galow is the principal at Tullar Elementary School. She says, "With all of the stuff that they want in their classroom from flexible seating, to incentives, to many other types of things, we just can't fund it as a schools, so it is wonderful when the community gets involved and gets behind our teachers."

Tullar Elementary School teacher, Natalie Lepp, started using "DonorsChoose" as soon as she began teaching. "I was a first year teacher and I didn't have a ton of money, so I went online and I saw how to do it, kind of put in for my first project, got it funded within a couple of weeks," she says.

Through "DonorsChoose", she's gotten things like shelves to help store supplies, games to help with learning, and other tools for students to use.

Lepp adds, "It's an option. If you don't have something in your classroom and it's something you need, before spending huge amounts of money out of your own pocket, give it a try."