You need a classroom grant. Or several. Yet it’s hard enough finagling space in your day for a bathroom break, never mind researching and applying for a grant.
Luckily, Donors Choose has made it super simple for hard-working teachers like you and me to get what we need.
“Figuring out” classroom grants had long been on my to do list. But the thought of the paperwork in getting one funded was a convenient excuse to put it off until next year. (You know. Next year. That mythical time when everything will be easier.)
Classroom grant for S!
Then last year, I saw my friend S posting on Facebook about a flexible seating classroom grant she was trying to fund through the organization. A few weeks later, she announced that it was fully funded. That got my attention.
I skedaddled over to the Donors Choose website, cautiously expecting to find the application to be a big old headache.
Nope. Super easy.
What is Donors Choose?
Donors Choose is an organization that lets you post a project you want to fund in your classroom. And people can donate directly to your classroom through the site from all over the world!
I found out, in fact, that two of my family members gave monthly donations to Donors Choose before I’d even heard of it!
Below is a recent video from Stephen Colbert about his love of the group.
My First Project
In most schools, the books we have to pick from for book groups are outdated and often falling apart. (In past years, I found ones stiff with mold.) I longed to purchase popular book group books for Reader’s Workshop that would make my kids’ jaws drop.
First, I created an account at Donors Choose. (one minute)
Then created a description of my students. (five minutes)
The shopping part where I chose the books took longer, but that was just because I was having SO much fun exploring Amazon and narrowing down the books I wanted to share with my class. Had I already known what I wanted, the task would have taken five minutes.
This is what the shopping for the classroom grant looked like when complete:
Then I described my project. (Ten minutes.)
I submitted my project to Donors Choose.
Nervously, I posted the link on Facebook and sent out one email to family and friends.
And in eleven days — ELEVEN! — my $748 classroom grant was fully funded. I even got donations from Ripple and from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
A few weeks later, boxes of gorgeous books arrived.
What a DAY! I mean, look at them!
Shortly after, we started our first book groups! BOY, were the kids excited! (One of my kids said repeatedly to his friends, “I never liked reading before. But The Wild Robot is the best book I’ve ever read.”)
I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. ‘Cause it just seemed a little TOO easy. And as teachers, we’re not used to that.
But, dang it. It really was that simple.
Books I bought for Reading Groups:
I bought 6 books of each of these titles:
- The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Bradley
- The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Bradley
- The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
- The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown
- The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
- 39 Clues: A Maze of Bones
- Bunnicula by James Howe
- Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
- The Candymakers by Wendy Mass
How the classroom grant application works
First, you go to the Donors Choose homepage. Click on “Learn how to get funded” and create an account.
You’ll share what school you’re from and you’ll upload one photograph of yourself. (Don’t stress over this. Pick one picture, or take a friendly selfie, and move on.)
Classroom grant basics
Next, select “Create new project.”
Then, decide if you want a Standard project (supplies, class trip, or bringing a visitor to your school) or Professional Development (training.) Click “Let’s go!”
Next, type in
- ages of your students
- number of students the classroom grant will help
- a couple of paragraphs about what makes your students great (they provide helpful examples if writing freezes you up)
Then upload a photo of your classroom.
What you want
Donors Choose suggests not going over $600, as classroom grant projects that hover at or below this amount are the most successfully funded. Of course, you can certainly go higher than this.
Project description and title
Name it. Describe it. Pick the subject area. (Reading, PE, etc.)
Finally, once your project goes live — it happens FAST — then share it on social media AND email the link to people you adore. Donors Choose has helpful scripts you can either follow word for word or edit until it sounds like your voice.
When there are matching periods — “The ____ company is doubling all donations for the next 24 hours.” — take advantage and throw it on social media again. People love seeing their money stretched and will fund your project quickly.
While you will have friends and family donate, you will also likely get anonymous donations from people who appreciate being able to see exactly how their money will help students.
Once your materials begin to arrive, take lots of photos. (Just check with your school policy before posting photos of students and/or your classroom.)
After a short period, Donors Choose will remind you when it is time to send your donors thank you cards from your students and an update on how the project is going. As with the application, this part is quick and simple.
Now, it’s time to hear from YOU! In the comments below, tell us:
- What do you need for your classroom?
- Or, if you’ve had a project funded, tell us about it!
As always, if you found this information valuable, please share it on your favorite social media platform! Till next week!
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