How to Get Crafty When Funds Are Limited

The start of a new school year is so EXCITING! We are planning, organizing, and arranging. There is often so much that needs purchased and like many school budgets, it may fall on you to do the necessary purchasing. Not only that, but often we know that there are some of our students whose families are not in a position financially to purchase school supplies. Have you heard of DonorsChoose.org? This is an incredible online charity that is a facilitator between teachers/students who need supplies and people who want to meet those needs.

My first year teaching READ 180, we used battery operated CD Walkman’s and ear buds for students to complete audiobooks. This created a lot of extra work and interruption for me. I did have re-chargeable batteries, but I was always having students who needed help getting them to work or to trade in batteries or cheap ear buds were on the fritz. At the end of that year I knew I needed to plan a better routine, but I really wanted CD players that plugged in and decent headphones. The problem was, of course, the money that would take. That summer I was introduced to DonorsChoose.org.

The first DonorsChoose.org project I submitted was for CD players and headphones. The project was just under $400 and it was fully funded in less than 24 hours. I had donors I didn’t know and then I had one family member who just followed the link I was able to post on Facebook, and a couple weeks later the supplies arrived! After using them for three years, I am still incredibly thankful that my students have had access to these materials. All I had to do in return was send “Thank You!” notes and pictures to the donors who chose that option when they gave. The second DonorsChoose.org project I recently completed was also a success. I really wanted to start the year off with helping my students be more organized. I submitted a project for binders, dividers, and pencils. Again, the total cost was just under $400 and it was fully funded in less than 7 days.

There are a wide variety of needs that teachers and students have. Some pointers from my experience are:

1) You can absolutely do it by yourself, however an experienced colleague helped me with my first one. It took me approximately two hours to complete my project submissions.

2) Make sure you read all of the expectations and guidelines before you get started.

3) Tell everyone about your project. You can share it on social media, email it to your friends, and even let other teachers know you have a project that needs funded. I can’t tell you how many people said that they loved giving to someone they knew.

4) As well as the DonorsChoose page, I also “Liked” the Facebook page Caring Classrooms, which is a page dedicated to helping teachers with projects on DonorsChoose.org get fully funded. The give you tips and suggestions on creating a project, as well as posting when there are matching grant opportunities available.

This year holds so much promise for you and your students. Good luck and please feel free to leave any pointers you have for a successful DonorsChoose.org project in the comments!

Stage B READ 180 Classroom Teacher