45 minutes. That’s how long it takes our class to walk to the library and back. And believe me, we hustle!
My sophomore English class had a problem that may sound familiar to you. Students wanted hot new books from diverse authors. And I, their teacher, wanted to spend more class time reading than walking. There was a clear solution. We needed to start a classroom library. But this was also a problem. Where would we get the funds for our project?
Funding: The White Whale.
Call me Captain Ahab. I’ve been hunting the white whale of “funding” year after year. If you’re a teacher, a student, or a parent you know that the projects we dream of for school can often seem out of reach. We need funds (something, anything!) to get big ideas off the ground. But grant proposals need skill to write, fundraisers need an invested audience to attend, and enthusiasm needs momentum to stay alive. And all of these approaches take TIME. That’s why, when someone finds a path to funding, we’re likely to holler about it from the mountain tops! Allow me to holler at your for a second.
DonorsChoose Really, Really Works. Really!
I first heard about DonorsChoose from a fellow teacher (who was hollering from the mountain tops). Her project required a class set of ipads… and it had just been funded. The project sounded amazing. The ipads were shiny and new. My colleague had captured the elusive rainbow unicorn of funding. She was a superstar! Of course my first thought was, there’s no way I could ever do that.
But when my students started suggesting books for our imaginary classroom library, I knew I had to try every path possible to make it happen. I’m telling you, DonorsChoose worked for my class. I posted our project on DonorsChoose.org and within a week, it was funded!
What Do You Need?
The steps were easy: Tell us about your students, tell us about your project, tell us what you need. I told the truth. My students are a pack of weirdos who believe in ancient unicorn fossils (archaeologists on the internet said it was true!) and they want fresh, diverse books to fuel their weirdness. The request was simple: We need books!
DonorsChoose gave me a link to share on Facebook. I kept my fingers crossed as I picked through the discard bin at the library over the weekend (hey, sometimes there’s a diamond in the rough!)
Four Days Later
Four days later our project was fully funded. I received an email of congratulations and high fives from my friends at school. It turns out a donor from California saw my project and wanted to help. Then, a foundation matched her donation. Before I could say “bookshelves” the books had been ordered. They’re set to arrive in a few short weeks. I posted a huge “THANK YOU!” from me and my class to our fabulous donors.
So If You Have a Big Idea...
Today, right now, this very minute, I urge you to make a post on DonorsChoose. And when your project is funded, give me a holler!
Chrissy Layton, High School English Teacher