Three Cheers for Teachers! Supporting the Teachers Keeping Our Kids Learning
This article is part of a series taking a close look at organizations chosen for donations from our teammate and founder, Kenji. For more information on his donation, check out “Our Founder’s Response to COVID-19.”
Education in 2020 is shaping up to look a lot different than 2019. Remote learning is creating all kinds of new challenges, but teachers continue to do what they’ve always done: go above and beyond to make sure our kids are happy, healthy, and learning. Teachers, thank you so much for all that you do!
In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we’re taking a closer look at DonorsChoose, the crowdfunding platform connecting public school teachers with the funding they need to bring amazing classroom ideas to life. The FamilyAlbum team is proud to partner with DonorsChoose to help teachers get the resources they need to keep their students learning during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
How It Works
Any full-time public school teacher can post a project on DonorsChoose. Project requests range from basic classroom materials like pencils or books to field trips and guest speakers. Teachers can also request funding for costs related to professional development, including resources, trips, or visitors.
From start to finish, the posting process takes about 20 minutes. Teachers answer a few short essay questions and create an itemized shopping list from approved vendors. Once the project is funded, these items will be shipped directly to the teacher’s school. Projects on the site can be funded by anyone, including foundations, corporate partners, and individual donors.
Since 2000, more than 4 million people and partners have contributed $950 million to support 1.5 million teacher requests for classroom resources and experiences. These projects have impacted almost 40 million students and 84% of public schools across the United States.
Helping Students Learn During a Pandemic
As schools remain closed across the country, resources available at home determine how much students are able to keep learning. For many low-income households, students are struggling to learn without reliable access to books, food, basic supplies, or other materials. According to a survey of nearly 4,000 teachers, 97% were worried that school closures would negatively impact their students’ learning. Nearly 70% of their students lacked the resources to continue learning from home.
Until recently, the DonorsChoose model relied on shipping requested supplies directly to schools. But with schools closed, the organization needed to find a new way to get supplies to the teachers and students who needed them.
DonorsChoose launched Keep Kids Learning on March 18 to get resources to the country’s most vulnerable students immediately. Since its launch, the project has connected over 6,000 teachers with $6.5 million in funding–all to schools where nearly all students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch.
In late April, DonorsChoose introduced Distance Learning Projects, their second initiative to support teachers and students during the COVID-19 crisis. Any public school teacher in the U.S. can request materials for their students, including school supplies, food, and hygiene essentials, or items that the teacher needs to effectively teach from home. Once the project is funded, items are shipped directly to the teacher’s home or the home of a student.
Distance Learning Projects
In just a few days, teachers have created hundreds of Distance Learning Projects. Ms. Carter in Victoria requested a laminator to create and deliver reusable learning materials for students without access to technology. Mrs. Bayes in Orlando requested phonics and math workbooks to mail to her students, many of whom don’t have WiFi for online learning. Mrs. Trabert in Erie requested art supplies for creative projects, and Mr. Escalante in Los Angeles requested basic writing supplies and nutritional snacks.
“As a teacher, I want to do everything I can to help my students achieve academic success,” writes Mrs. Mackie in Baton Rouge. “My students are all from low income families with multiple children and limited resources. Most can’t afford technology and if provided by the school some don’t have internet access. Out of 21 students, only 7 have been able to meet for virtual class regularly.” She hopes that enrichment workbooks will help her students continue to learn through the remainder of the school year.
“Many of my students live in poverty and are struggling with having enough food to eat,” writes Mrs. McIntyre-Jones in Charlotte. “I would love to prepare snack bags to personally deliver my families. This gesture will show them that while we are apart, I care immensely about their well-being.”
FamilyAlbum and DonorsChoose
Kenji’s $300,000 contribution will match donations for Distance Learning Projects at schools where 75% or more students qualify for free and reduced price lunch.
“The FamilyAlbum team is so grateful for teachers working hard to keep kids learning,” said Kenji. “But there’s only so much a teacher can do when students don’t have access to the basic resources they need to continue their education. We’re honored to partner with DonorsChoose to help teachers get school supplies, food, and other essential items to the students who need them.”
“When students can’t go to school, their home resources will shape their education,” said Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose. “To prevent coronavirus from further widening educational inequity in America, it’s essential that students and teachers have access to learning materials and resources at home. We’re so grateful for this support from FamilyAlbum, which will allow us to help teachers keep their students learning.”
How to Get Involved
To learn more about DonorsChoose and Distance Learning Projects, visit https://www.donorschoose.org/distance-learning-projects.
Public school teachers interested in posting a Distance Learning Project can get more information at https://help.donorschoose.org/hc/en-us/articles/360046925073.