Teachers in North Carolina have for years turned to online fundraisers in order to buy school supplies and books, update their classroom technology or pay for professional development to make them better at their jobs.
One of the more popular sites for these fundraisers is Donors Choose, a site for teachers to explain what they teach and what they need. Donors can scroll through hundreds of projects until they find one that they like or that affects their neighborhood school.
After the post-Thanksgiving excesses of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, charities have tried to claim their own day, calling it Giving Tuesday. And in the charitable spirit, several local companies – and at least one international group – are pitching in to double the donations given to local teachers.
Duke Energy, SAS, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and PricewaterhouseCooper are among the organizations that are matching donations to local schools on Donors Choose right now.
That means people can log on, donate $25 to a project and count on one of those companies to donate another $25 automatically. The website notes which projects are receiving doubled matching funds – and it includes nearly every project from schools in the Triangle, plus many counties elsewhere in the state.
There’s a lot of money still up for grabs. For instance, Duke Energy has paid out more than $26,000 so far to various Donors Choose projects – which is only a small portion of the $175,000 the company said it will match.
So what are teachers asking for? A lot. There are hundreds of requests from teachers at schools in the Triangle, many of which meet the site’s qualifications for getting the matching funds. And some school districts outside the Triangle qualify, too.
Some requests are routine, like kindergarten teacher Karla Anderson at Brassfield Elemetary School in Raleigh who’s asking for help purchasing eight sets of books. Some are aimed at kids learning to read, and she also wants nonfiction and science books for her more advanced readers. She said it will be especially helpful for her Spanish-speaking students.
“These books will help close achievement gaps across different socio-economic groups, cultural backgrounds, and students dealing with language barriers,” she wrote.
More than 10,000 students in Wake County schools aren’t fluent in English, according to district data. That’s about 7 percent of the student population.
Projects to help teachers reach out to non-English-speakers are common requests on Donors Choose – like Mat Kilgore at Hope Valley Elementary School in Durham, who is asking for help buying Rosetta Stone software so he can learn Spanish.
“With around 200 Spanish speaking students attending my classes, it would be extremely helpful,” he wrote. “... I also interact with parents on a daily basis at the end of the day and being able to field their questions or tell them about my concerns would help out a great deal in developing a positive relationship.”
Other requests are for more large-scale projects.
The librarian at Riverside High School is asking for lightweight shelves so he can move them around and make the library more of a “flexible” learning space, and a teacher at Rocky Mount High School says her school already has one 3D printer – but her students have been making so many projects that she needs another.
“My students were amazed not only by current uses of 3D printers but by the job market that would be available to them in a multitude of professional arenas,” she wrote. “They realized that the field of 3D printing is a job market that could be in their future. They struggled through the planning but were glowing with pride when they saw their 3D creations.”
Doran: 919-836-2858; Twitter: @will_doran