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Updated September 4, 2018
What crowdfunding is telling us about the future of Chicago education
Cushioned seating, compost bins, standing desks, even a science kit for forensic investigation — these are some of the things Chicago teachers are…
March 28, 2018
28,000 American teachers benefiting from cryptocurrency after company funds their DonorsChoose requests
The donation only temporarily offsets the many needs American teachers cite for their classrooms — and frequently fund out of their own pockets.
February 14, 2018
With clean clothes, this Detroit school sees a new attitude and improved attendance
Last year, administrators at the A.L. Holmes Academy of Blended Learning struggled to get children to come to school every day. More than…
How I Teach
June 1, 2017
How one Brooklyn teacher found the perfect job — by checking the wrong box on an application
Levy is passionate about her students at P.S. 369K in downtown Brooklyn. This year, she’s teaching fourth- and fifth-graders on the autism spectrum.
February 23, 2017
Hundreds of education leaders from charter schools, nonprofits denounce Trump’s travel ban
Education leaders are increasingly open to weighing in on political matters that they think connect to their mission.
March 13, 2012
For students who want to attend pricey programs, a site to help
Watley, a ninth-grader at a city high school, is hoping to attend a technology camp at New York University. Adrian wants to attend a youth leadership conference. And Sheridan thinks a physics program at the University of Pennsylvania would help her move towards her goal of studying aerospace engineering. But all of the opportunities cost money that the students don't have. That's why their schools directed them towards Wishbone, an organization developed by a former teacher to help students independently raise money for out-of-school and summer programs. Wishbone, which launched its website yesterday, follows in the tradition of DonorsChoose and GrayMatter, which allow donors to earmark funds to specific school and student needs. Like those groups, Wishbone depends on the graciousness of strangers to fulfill the wishes of those fundraising, but Wishbone's innovation is to focus on the non-academic side of the student experience. Already, 15 city students are raising funds. One student's campaign — Sheridan's — is marked urgent because she has just 16 days to raise nearly $2,000 to pay for the physics summer program. (A video featuring Sheridan is below.) Reed Matheny, Wishbone’s outreach coordinator, said the organization sees itself as supplementing more established groups. “We’re putting that same philanthropic energy that’s out there in the country towards supporting individual students in out-of-school opportunities,” Matheny said.
December 6, 2011
Students launch foundation to help their peers fill budget gaps
A screenshot of GrayMatter's website. As a student at Staten Island Technical High School, Jeremy Meyers couldn't always get the gear he needed as a member of the fencing team. The Model United Nations team he had helped start was scrambling for funds to attend conferences. And he saw that computer programming classes were cut alongside the school's budget. Instead of making do with less, Meyers, now a freshman at Columbia University, teamed up with classmates to develop a strategy to fill the budget gaps. The result is GrayMatter, a foundation that aims to make it easier for students to raise money for their schools. Modeled off of DonorsChoose, the website that many teachers use to solicit donations for school supplies, GrayMatter allows students in city schools to list projects in need of support, then collects and disburses funds on the students' behalf after verifying with school officials that the need is real. Right now, Jim, a senior at a Brooklyn school, still needs $282.72 to allow two members of a community service group to attend a leadership conference. The final bill comes to $612.72, and 17 people have already pitched in $330.
November 11, 2011
On DonorsChoose, a look at what teachers say they lack
With their discretionary funds eliminated and their schools' budgets deflated, city teachers are supplicating strangers to fill in the gaps. There are 1,793 projects posted by city teachers – mostly from high poverty schools – on DonorsChoose, a website that allows teachers across the country to describe small-scale projects that need funding. The requests paint a depressing picture of what many classrooms are lacking. There are the occasional requests for cutting edge technology, such as iPads, tablets and digital cameras. And many of the more ambitious projects range from the creative (violins, costumes, wireless microphones) to the healthy (soccer balls, juicers, pedometers) to the icky (fetal pigs, butterfly larvae, composting worms). But most teachers seem to be asking for classroom staples such as pens, paper, and glue. Here's what we saw when we checked out DonorsChoose today: More than half of all NYC projects relate to literacy and language, a focus of the Department of Education's this year. Many teachers, hoping to make their reading areas more appealing, are asking for beanbag chairs, rugs, library shelves and books. Ms. Coneys, from Thurgood Marshall Academy in Manhattan, is requesting a class set of "Things Fall Apart" for her students. She writes: "School supplies have become less of a priority, and asking students to go out and buy a book they have never heard of is even more difficult. That being said, it's apparent that my students have the desire to learn something new."
August 6, 2010
Opposition to "Waiting for Superman" slow in gaining steam
Will teachers offended by the crusading film "Waiting for Superman" make their voices heard? A first attempt has fizzled, so far. The film's negative portrayal of teachers unions has drawn criticism from, among others, teachers union president Randi Weingarten. So when Donors Choose, the website that helps match small donors with teachers seeking to fund classroom projects, sent out an email to its members asking them to pledge to see the film, a teacher who blogs at the site Accountable Talk was upset. "Never mind that if the film makers get their way, you most likely won't have a classroom or a job, so your need for project funding will be drastically reduced," he wrote. He cancelled his membership with the site and urged others to do the same. A few other bloggers took up the call, and a Facebook group called "Boycott Donors Choose" currently has just over 35 members.
April 21, 2009
At a city school, Stephen Colbert earnestly reports on new grant
Stephen Colbert appeared at Manhattan Bridges High School this morning to announce a $4 million grant that will help teachers buy supplies. The comedian Stephen Colbert took time out from his regular ranting to conduct a polite, earnest interview at a Manhattan high school this morning, in an appearance meant to announce a new "citizen philanthropy" project by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation is giving $4.1 million to a Web site that connects private donors with classroom teachers who need extra supplies, DonorsChoose.org, . Colbert, who sits on the site's board, made the announcement in the style of his televised interviews, before an audience of students at Manhattan Bridges High School, but without any of his usual mean comments. (He did draw laughs with an awkward attempt to use Spanish, the native language of many Bridges students, to explain that he was a "perdedor gigante," or giant loser, when he was in high school.) The panel he interviewed included Vicki Phillips, the head of Gates' education division; DonorsChoose founder Charles Best; and a Manhattan Bridges English teacher. The Gates money will be disbursed to teachers who apply for small grants through DonorsChoose's existing "Double Your Impact" program, which allows foundations and companies to earmark donations for specific kinds of projects. When a DonorsChoose user views projects that fall into that category, they appear as already being 50 percent funded. The Gates Foundation money will go to support as many as 17,000 projects that are identified by DonorsChoose as boosting students' readiness for college, one of the new goals the foundation adopted after it re-considered its mission last year.
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