Laura CandlerBlog: Corkboard Connections“The Flip Side of DonorsChoose.org”
I discovered DonorsChoose.org over 8 years ago in 2004, and I immediately submitted my first proposal, “Literature Circle Book Request”. The total amount I requested was $95, and I had no problem getting it funded. I was thrilled to think that people I didn’t even know would donate money to support my classroom project! It was exciting to carry out the project and have the students write thank you letters to express their gratitude for receiving those books. Over the next 6 years I submitted 6 more project proposals and received close to $2,000 in funding. The materials I received from generous donors helped me implement many lessons and activities that would not have been possible without that help.
I retired from public school teaching in 2010, but I remain active in the educational community as an educational author and through my Teaching Resources website, Corkboard Connections blog, and my Facebook page. These online platforms have given me the unique opportunity to reach out to other teachers and help spread the word about DonorsChoose.org.
I’m also excited that I can now experience the flip side of DonorsChoose as a donor myself. Giving back to the educational community in this way is something I truly enjoy because I know first-hand how it feels to have a project funded. I know the impact that my donation will have in the way of enriching student learning and providing opportunities that would not be possible without this money.
In fact, I love funding these projects so much that I’ve designated Sundays as “DonorsChoose Sundays” on my Teaching Resources Facebook page. Every Sunday morning, I post a call for proposals and ask teachers to post a link to their project and tell me why their project should be selected for funding. However, recently I’ve had so many proposals posted (over 90 last week!) that it’s become impossible for me to study them all in detail. Instead, I select about 10 projects and add them to my Favorites list in my donor account, and then I review those more carefully before making my selections.
What impresses me most as a donor is a passionate appeal from a teacher who believes in his or her project and is willing to work hard to make sure it’s funded. When a project has already received donations from 10 other donors, even if those donations only amount to a total of $100, I know that the teacher has been promoting the project and that it’s supported by parents and others in the community. One project that I recently helped fund had 56 donors before I contributed! Clearly, the teacher is not sitting around waiting and hoping for funding! As a teacher myself, I discovered the importance of taking action; writing letters and emails asking for funding virtually guaranteed that my projects would be funded. Facebook makes it even easier to reach out to the community. When I’m reviewing projects as a donor, I also look for projects that promote hands-on learning in science or math, and projects that help put real books (not worksheets) into the hands of students. I love technology projects, too, but technology is expensive, so I carefully review how the teacher plans to use that technology before I contribute to a project.
Let me end by expressing my gratitude for DonorsChoose.org, not only for the funding I received as a teacher, but also for the opportunity it offers me to support educators now that I’m retired. I encourage you to spread the word about DonorsChoose.org, not only to educators but to community members who would eagerly donate directly to schools and classrooms if they knew that this opportunity existed. DonorsChoose.org is truly a blessing to both donors and recipients!
Laura Candler is a retired public school teacher with 30 years of experience in grades 4 through 6. Laura received National Board Certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist and was a Milken Family Foundation recipient in 2000. She is the creator of the Teaching Resources website where she has an entire page devoted to DonorsChoose.org resources such as a free webinar and links to helpful materials. Laura is author of dozens of digital and print resources for teachers that are available on her site. You can follow Laura on her Corkboard Connections blog, or join over 50,000 educators who like her Teaching Resources Facebook Page.