Teacher crowdfunding tool helps students

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Central Indiana teachers are turning to an online crowdfunding website to purchase school supplies and tools for their classrooms with major success. 

The website Donors Choose began in 2000 and is geared toward connecting teachers with education-minded donors and foundations who can make their classroom projects a reality. 

Kristen Jordan taught social studies at Southport Middle School in Perry Township for the last 10 years and now directs the school’s Project Lead The Way computer coding class. Through Donors Choose, Jordan has funded 25 separate projects for her classroom. 

“We’ve done calculators, we’ve done tablets and decorations, even rugs for social studies classroom, class sets of novels,” Jordan said, listing projects she and her fellow teachers have completed, “We’ve had science kits for eighth-grade science teachers. All of our math teachers use the same calculators through Donors Choose.” 

She said the website hosts the fundraiser and purchases the requested equipment or item and ships it to the school so the teachers never actually handle the donated money. 

“It gives us the chance to provide for our students, to provide things that maybe the school isn’t able to,” Jordan said. 

In the Project Lead the Way class, Perry Township has supplied students with computers and tablets to help students learn more about computer science. 

“I’ve kind of always wondered how apps are created, and we actually get to create our own and put it on the Google Play store at the end of the semester,” said Matt Youmans, a seventh-grader in Jordan’s class. 

As Jordan’s class has grown to around 30 students, there aren’t enough tablets to go around. After posting the request on Donors Choose and telling the world her story, Jordan said a box arrived at school with two new tablets to help complete the classroom set. 

“It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling when you put out this idea and someone thinks it’s a great idea and they donate and they help bring your goal or your wish to life,” she said. 

Jordan has also funded a class set of the game Battleship to teach her students about latitude and longitude in a fun, interactive way. She said science, technology, math and engineering projects tend to get extra attention with donors, along with projects for special-needs classrooms. 

As for who donates, Jordan said, it’s almost always a mixed bag of group such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, local businesses such as Salesforce, and people across the country. 

Students can write thank-you cards to each donor who helped their teacher complete a fundraiser. Jordan said that teaches students a great lesson in gratitude and responsibility as new equipment and technology flow in the classroom door. 

“I think it’s cool because you don’t have to buy all the things and people support you for it,” said Angel Cazares, another of Jordan’s seventh-grade coding students. “It helps out a lot of people.” 

Jordan has two open projects: one for headphones and another for 2 additional tablets

To see other local classroom fundraisers, enter your ZIP code into the search bar on Donors Choose