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Donors Choose Grants Help Improve Education

Donors Choose Grants Help Improve Education
Posted on 10/27/2017
This is the image for the news article titled Donors Choose Grants Help Improve Education

When children walk into Brittney Schulz’s classroom at Franklin D. Roosevelt Elementary School, they don’t head for rows of matching desks with stiff-backed chairs. Instead, they cluster in small groups on wheeled chairs, wobble stools, camp chairs or a comfy sofa.

This flexible and inviting classroom was made possible through the generosity of private donors and corporations through the website called Donors Choose. A large portion of this $1,200 flexible classroom was funded by folks from Washington state who have never met Schulz or her students, but are dedicated to improving educational opportunities for kids. Other donors included corporations and families of previous students.

Furniture in Brittney Schulz's classroom - wobble stools“It’s exciting to see how many people are willing to donate to Donors Choose to help fund education,” Schulz said.

Schulz, an early literacy specialist who serves kids in kindergarten through fifth grade, is all the more excited about the grant because her students helped shape it. After providing them with some Amazon links to possible materials, she let them design the room that would best help them learn. The results were surprising.

“It was not what I expected or what I was thinking,” she said. “They really thought about collaborative learning and they wanted to be with each other in smaller group spaces.”

The flexible seating was a game changer, Schulz said. After mixing it up in the middle of the year, she saw decreases in students’ stress and anxiety levels and an increase in student focus.

“It also changed how I taught,” she said. “I’m more active now as I move between work spaces and not just desks. The kids are sharing space just like they will throughout their lives; they will always be working with someone else.”

Buoyed by the success of that project, Schulz has since had two more grants funded through Donors Choose. One provided a rolling white board that allows her to move her classroom outside on warm days, and the other paid for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) manipulatives with a fairy tale theme. That project was funded largely by a group of donors in California.

She also recently learned she has been approved to apply for a one-time, $1,500 Lucy Calkins writing grant that will help kids throughout the school improve their writing and literacy skills.

“With Donors Choose, I can ask for the whole $1,500 instead of trying to piece together a lot of smaller grants,” she said. “And if a Donors Choose grant is not fully funded (a requirement for teachers to claim the funds), you can still get credit for the donations made and apply it toward a new project request, or donate it to another teacher.”

In addition, many corporations pitch in to “match” teacher requests, helping them reach their goal.

To learn more about Donors Choose or to find a project to support, visit https://www.donorschoose.org/ and search for “Nampa, Idaho” in the “near” search box.