DonorsChoose.org has been helping teachers crowdfund the money they need for classroom supplies for years. Now, the organization is turning its focus on helping teachers address a different kind of classroom need: warm clothing, food and hygiene products for disadvantaged students.
The nonprofit announced today that it will partnering with Student Life Essentials to raise funding for projects that provide in-need students with these kinds of goods.
Also announced today: A separate group of supporters have raised a total of $1 million to match citizen donations to these projects nationwide.
These supporters include Acton Family Fund; AT&T; John Langan and Judy Nadell, co-owners of Townsend Press; Morgridge Family Foundation; Scott and Olivia Rofey; Kathleen and Chip Rosenbloom; and Biz and Livia Stone.
"When students come to school hungry, cold, uncomfortable, or self-conscious, it's very difficult for them to focus on learning. Teachers are often the first to recognize a student in need, and we want them to have the tools to help," said Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org in a statement.
"For 17 years, DonorsChoose.org has been the place for teachers to request the classroom materials they need to give their students a great education. We're so grateful to our Student Life Essentials supporters for helping us expand beyond classroom resources to bring essential items to the students who need them most."
All in all, DonorsChoose.org says that teachers are both most likely to identify students in-need of basic items as well as spend out-of-pocket money to provide these basic supplies.
"In a survey of more than 2,000 educators from America's highest poverty classrooms, DonorsChoose.org found that 84% of these teachers have spent their own money to provide for the basic needs of their students," the organization said in a statement.
Considering the fact that the average teacher already spends $500 of out-of-pocket money purchasing needed classroom supplies, it can be assumed that a significant portion of a teacher's pay working in a low-income area goes towards providing for students.
Examples of teachers working in high-poverty areas using DonorsChoose.org to help their in-need students include Mrs. Wurtz, a kindergarten teacher who is seeking toothpaste, toothbrushes, lotion and bath size soap bars to help students learn proper body health.
"My kindergarten scholars are in need of basic health care items in order to help them stay healthy enough to come to school for both breakfast and lunch each day," Mrs. Wurtz writes.
DonorsChoose.org uses Mrs. Wurtz's project as an example of how teachers are reaching out to the community to help their students who need a little more than most.
DonorsChoose.org will also specifically be focusing on eyewear donations to help alleviate students' vision disability—the single most prevalent disabling condition among children in the United States. This will be done thanks to its partnership with lifestyle brand Warby Parker and its project—the Pupils Project. The project is first being piloted in New York City.
Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor