From car washes to candy sales, schools have been reduced to all sorts of fundraising gimmicks to try to make ends meet. Some public schools are using DonorsChoose.org
, a philanthropic website where teachers can go to fund their projects, reports the Associated Press.
DonorsChoose was started by teachers at a public high school in the Bronx and has raised more than $8.2 million for school projects since 2000. The project is expanding to seven states and four major cities.
"People want to help schools, but they don't know how. They're not going to walk over to the neighborhood school and drop off a $100 check. DonorsChoose is a way they can do it at their desk at work or at home with their kids, picking out projects together," said Linda Erlinger, executive director of DonorsChoose. She said the program provides a creative outlet for donors who support education causes.
Unfortunately, teachers often are the ones to dig into their own pockets to fund programs. One study found that teachers spent an average of $443 of their own money annually. This is especially true of schools in poor districts.
"I wouldn't be doing this science project without it. The students get excited about the new stuff we get, said fourth-grade teacher Lisa Wescott, who received balances and weights through the site.
Donations come in small and large denominations, and donors can view the projects that need funding.
"DonorsChoose doesn't pretend to fix the challenges facing schools," Erlinger said. "But I think it's underestimated how powerful a new set of calculators or a field trip to the children's museum is for children who haven't had that."