An armful of Etch A Sketch pads here, a few rolls of duct tape there. It all adds up.
Kelly Granda, an art teacher at Summit Academy Community School in Parma, knows all too well the high cost of classroom supplies. She discovered a resource to help keep her from dipping into her own pockets for classroom extras.
For the past 12 years, Granda has reached out to donors through DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit online organization that links public school teachers with school-supply donors. Educators post their projects and funding needs on DonorChoose.org, which purchases and ships materials for projects — that receive full funding — to the teacher’s school.
So far, through DonorsChoose.org, Granda has received funding for 79 projects, including art supplies and bins. Granda, for instance, introduced canvases and acrylic paint to her classroom thanks to a fully funded DonorsChoose.org project titled “Canvas Painting for Students with ADHD and Autism.”
“DonorsChoose has allowed me to introduce my students to a wide variety of art mediums,” Granda says, noting that while family members and friends have provided about half of her donations, she has “been pleasantly surprised by the generosity of donors from across the country,” she says.
According to Summit Academy Management Executive Director of Development Deb Skul, teachers in the Summit Academy Schools coalition have raised more than $114,000 in the past 12 years.
Skul advises teachers to keep their funding requests small and achievable.
Granda says her projects range between $200 and $500 in value and usually receive full funding within a month or two of posting, which involves answering simple questions. The responses are compiled into a mini grant proposal, Granda explains. Teachers then add their project supplies into a virtual shopping cart. Once funded materials arrive, teachers post photos related to the project and a letter describing the project’s impact. Students often send thank-you notes to donors after they have worked with the materials.
“It’s a super easy way to get the supplies your students want to try,” Granda says.
Summit Academy project supply requests must meet crowdfunding policy guidelines, according to Skul. See SharePoint link.
Skul adds that DonorsChoose.org is an ideal resource for teachers who want to personalize their classrooms and students’ experiences. Think “wish list” items.
For Granda, student-suggested projects funded by DonorsChoose lead to pure delight.
“It truly feels like nothing is impossible,” she says.