Flexible Learning: Flexible Funding

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 02/11/2019 - 09:50
Ms. Brothers and her student, Dani.
Ms. Brothers and her student, Dani, show off some of the items she purchased.

Teachers around the country are using technology to find additional funds for their classrooms. Some of those avenues to funding, such as Donors Choose, have been around for a couple of decades.

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet Oliver Hurst-Hiller and Kirk Smiley of Donors Choose (https://www.donorschoose.org/). Their organization supports teachers by inviting them to make modest proposals for such items such as specialized technology, books, alternative seating, and more. Using an interactive web site, potential donors review these proposals and select the ones they wish to fund in whole or in part. For the past 20 years, over 54 thousand of these projects have been fully funded.

Recently I was surprised with a gift of a card I could use to make a $100 donation through the Donors Choose page. By simply typing in Saline’s zip code, I found a number of proposals by teachers within fifty miles. One proposal, the only one for Saline, had been made by a teacher at Saline’s Alternative High School. After reading her proposal, it was a thrill to help one of Saline’s newest special education teachers, Ms. Courtney Brothers.

Her proposal, Flexible Learning for All!, had the goal of helping her young adult students by creating a classroom they felt comfortable in. Not only was her instruction differentiated, but she believed the classroom needed to be as well. Some of her students required physical assistance and a variety of sensory inputs so her plan was to add specialized furnishings to their classroom.

Within hours of donating the $100 to her project, I was delighted to see that others from around town were also donating various sums of money. Within three days, her project was fully funded, months ahead of schedule.

During my days as a teacher, there were several mini-grants I had applied for. Some I received and some I did not, but I think I certainly would have tried Donors Choose.

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