Getting resources to children in need
21 December 2021
Photo provided by DonorsChoose
Too often in America, a student’s postcode determines the quality of children’s education. Across the United States, schools that serve mostly students of colour receive USD 23 billion less in funding per year than schools that serve mostly White students . Teachers can often end up footing the bill to buy what’s needed themselves – indeed, according to a 2018 federal Department of Education survey, they spend nearly USD 500 buying their own classroom materials each school year.
DonorsChoose is a not-for-profit organisation that allows individuals to donate directly to classroom project requests from public school teachers. Teachers are empowered to request resources they know will help their students thrive, including books, basic supplies, technology, and professional development training, and donors can give at any level to the projects that inspire them. Since 2000, DonorsChoose has raised USD 1.3 billion, and has millions of projects serving more than 646,000 teachers.
“DonorsChoose is the greatest, simplest idea,” says Stephen Colbert, DonorsChoose board member and host of well-known late-night talk show, The Late Show. “Teachers go to the website and put up materials they need for something they want to teach. You, as a donor, choose a school and a project. Every dime goes exactly to that project, and you hear directly back from those kids and that teacher.”
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the work of DonorsChoose was especially impactful for students across the US as they moved to distance and/or hybrid learning. The DonorsChoose team recognised that the varying resources available to students at home could impact learning outcomes, which could widen the existing inequities in US public education. Through its rapid response campaign Keep Kids Learning, the organisation raised nearly USD 12 million to help teachers get essential learning resources for schools where nearly all students were from low-income households. In order to address these differences and level the playing field, the organisation raised USD 138 million to provide resources to support distance learning. “There are so many barriers we face as teachers, especially this school year, and each donation teachers receive is a way to help overcome these barriers,” said Ms De La Rosa, a teacher in Tennessee.
DonorsChoose also supports teachers of students with learning differences through its professional development project to help teachers navigate and support students through their independent educational programmes. “DonorsChoose has a great impact on my teaching, specifically, while thinking about my students with disabilities. Because of DonorsChoose I was able to create a project that enables my students to be able to read along and use their devices for a text to speech experience,” said Mr Holmes, a teacher in Bronx, NY.
This grant falls under our Learning Differences Progamme, which works to improve education for all students, particularly those who experience further marginalisation due to racism and poverty. You can read more about the programme here and learn more about DonorsChoose through this video, and this report.