A teacher and her students excited to receive a donation for the classroom.
For Teachers

Proof that Teachers’ Donation Dreams Can Come True

By Nicole Mace, MEd September 25, 2018

Sometimes as teachers we feel alone when trying to find ways to give students everything they need and deserve. After all, we are but one passionate person to many young minds. While we all wish a lack of resources and supplies wasn’t an ongoing issue, we can at least ask for donations from parents and community members. Is it too far-fetched to think that a community has a responsibility to their youth? After all, it takes a village.

Whether you’re gearing up for a fundraiser or dreaming of the day when your club or program is fully funded, here are some uplifting examples that prove that teacher donation dreams really can come true.

When a teacher’s light shines through

We know we didn’t go into teaching for the money or fame. We pour out our hearts, and often what’s left in our wallets, into helping students in any way we can. Sometimes the light that a teacher shines is so bright it shines through each student…and is then broadcasted for the world to see.

Ellen DeGeneres, along with people across the country, was inspired by a young teacher, Wyatt Oroke, and his City Spring Elementary/Middle School students’ fight to rewrite history in one of the most underserved schools in the state of Maryland. What caught Ellen’s attention was the fact that Oroke (often called Mr. O) worked with his students to raise money for Hurricane Harvey victims. His students wanted to give what they could even though the majority of them are from economically disadvantaged homes and some of them are homeless.

Ellen surprised Mr. O by bringing him on her talk show to discuss his amazing students and the challenges they face. An emotional Mr. O beamed with pride when talking about them, and his students gushed with their appreciation and love for their teacher. Mr. O has given a great deal to his students and spoke about their dreams to attend college and return to their hometown to give back. In recognition of Mr. O’s hard work, and to help address the inequities and obstacles his students face, Ellen presented a check from Shutterfly for $25,000.

Watch the full interview (and you might want to grab a tissue).

When military student support is matched

What do public school teachers serving military students have in common with Craigslist? They both understand that children of military families sacrifice and serve alongside their loved ones. Earlier this year, Craig Newmark, creator of the Craigslist classifieds site, gave $1 million to directly support teachers who work with students from military families. Mr. Newmark partnered with DonorsChoose to kick off a new feature where every donation to these particular classrooms would be matched up to $1,000,000. DonorsChoose founder and CEO Charles Best said, “We owe a special debt to the children of our nation’s military families.”

The massive reach of this donation campaign supported 1,822 teachers and 318,926 students, fully funding 3,018 projects. One teacher identified as Mrs. Moore, whose STEM project was fully funded, expressed her gratitude and said, “Our military students are some of the best and brightest in our school. They have been taught flexibility, they offer a sense of diversity, and they are adaptive to any situation.”

Mrs. Pedesclaux, a teacher from Belle Chasse Academy, had requested funds for her school’s students so that they could have headphones needed to take online classes and so others could learn Spanish during their enrichment class. She thanked them and said, “our school’s mission is to educate our military-dependent children, no matter what their background or previous school experience, to fully achieve their personal and academic potential through the acquisition of core knowledge and the skills of analysis, problem-solving, communication, and global responsibility. This means that our students are impacted by constant changes and sometimes financial burdens of low-income households. Having the necessary equipment for students to learn and engage with these headphones is such a huge benefit for them.”

When a community comes together

In 2017, Portland Public Schools prepared to open a brand new, groundbreaking $48.8 million learning facility called The Faubion School. In partnership with Concordia University-Portland, Kaiser Permanente, Trillium Family Services, and Basics, Faubion was built upon a new education model called 3toPhD®. It provides wraparound support services to address students’ mental, emotional, and physical needs so that they can pursue their highest dreams. The school serves as a place where the community can come together to create a safer, healthier, and more educated future, supporting PreK-8 children, 81% of whom are eligible to receive free and reduced lunch. Though the opening of this facility was years in the making, that’s not where this donation dream ends.

In February of 2018, Faubion received a grant from the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods and the Office of Neighborhood Involvement. This grant was given to support Faubion’s Community Cooking Nights inside the new Faubion School’s kitchen. These cooking nights bring together diverse community members as a way to spend time getting to know one another across cultures, languages, and generations. In addition to this grant, local businesses such as Basics and Bob’s Red Mill have donated products for these culinary events. Together, students and families are learning how to cook healthy, nutritious meals.

When ALL donation dreams come true

DonorsChoose makes it easy for anyone to donate to teachers and students who are seeking funds for educational purposes. Teachers can ask for things like supplies for a makerspace or books for a full elementary library.

In March of 2018, there were a total of 35,647 donation campaigns open on DonorsChoose.org. On March 29, 2018, all of the campaigns were fulfilled by a single donation of $29 million from the San Francisco-based virtual currency company Ripple. This donation reached more than 16,500 classrooms across the nation.

This donation dream came true because Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose (and a former teacher himself), decided to take a chance and ask. Best reached out to Ripple’s co-founder Chris Larsen and their CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, who have supported charitable efforts in the past. Best was nervous to email them his ambitious pitch to fund all current donation campaigns, but within one month of sending the email, Ripple agreed to it.

“It’s honestly the biggest day in our 18-year history,” said Best. Donation requests were fulfilled for things like books, robotics kits, and field trips.“We think that classroom teachers know their kids better than anybody else in the system. And if we can tap into their frontline expertise, it will unleash better-targeted, smarter micro-solutions than what someone would come up with from on high in the central office or an ivory tower.”

How you can pay it forward

Inspired to pay it forward and help someone in need? On September 26, 2018, Concordia University-Portland launched its annual donation campaign, Big Give Day. Each year, every college department raises funds to support their students.

All donations given to Concordia’s College of Education will help our department’s students, paying for expenses such as books and testing fees, and there’s still time to participate! You can help future teachers so that they have the resources needed to achieve their dreams.

Nicole Mace earned a MEd in Educational Technology from Lesley University and a professional graduate certification in instructional design from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She’s spent nearly a decade in education, teaching multiple grade levels in the U.S. and South Korea and working as a lead instructional designer at the college level. Currently, Nicole serves as an adjunct online instructor and a freelance instructional designer. Her website offers key resources for instructors looking to crack the code on quality online instruction.

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