Teachers Turn to Fundraising for Classroom Supplies

By Kelly Bayliss
|  Tuesday, Aug 20, 2013  |  Updated 12:32 PM EDT
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Philly school teachers are using creative ways to raise money for school supplies.

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The beginning of a new school year is right around the corner and many teachers are still working to gather the school supplies they need for their classrooms.

“The District only gives you $100, so getting the rest of the supplies you need, is on you,” says Sara Landman, a Special Education teacher at Alexander K. McClure Elementary in the Hunting Park section of the city. “I spend $500, maybe $1000 a year on supplies,”

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And after years of putting out their own money, Landman, like other so many other teachers, is turning to the internet, various charities, even beer, to get the supplies needed for the year. 

Mary Beth Hertz, a blogger
and 9th grade art and technology teacher at the Science Leadership Academy, says she’s been fundraising for seven or eight years. Turning first to DonorsChoose.org, a website designed to help students in need.

The site, created in 2000 by a social studies teacher from the Bronx, makes it easy for public school teachers to log on, create a classroom project and give it a price. It’s even easier for anyone who wants to help fund a particular project to give.

DonorsChoose then takes the money and purchases the needed supplies from one of their venders. 

While donations made on DonorsChoose.org, did help Hertz obtain the headphones she needed for all her students, there is, she says, a catch -- When you leave the school where you were teaching at the time you received the donation, you can’t take it with you.

“I had to leave behind the headphones because anything you get through DonorsChoose.org is property of the school,” according to Hertz.

Still, some see that as a small price to pay for saving money in the short term.

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Hertz has also used a site that is no longer in service called ChipIn.com. ChipIn served as an easy way to raise money for, well, anything. All she had to do was post her project on her blog page and using Paypal accounts, people made donations.

A short time, and more than $1000 later, Hertz was able to fully fund all the robots for her new Robotic’s Club.

And although ChipIn is no longer in existence, Hertz’s Robotics Club still is.

Teachers are also using the ‘net to make money in other ways, not by simply asking for donations, but to promote events, such as happy hour fundraisers like “Sock It to Us,” an event that raised money for back-to-school supplies for Hackett Elementary in Kensington. The event was held at a bar and restaurant nearby, and for every beer sold, the bar donated $1 to the cause.

Other teachers have used programs like The Philadelphia Reads Book Bank. The Book Bank provides books for classrooms in Philadelphia. Some have gone the physical fitness route – running and walking --to raise money for their school’s supplies and extra-curriculars.

In June, teachers, students and alumni ran around J.R. Masterman High in the Spring Garden section of the city, raising around $26,000.

A few months earlier, Masterman’s Home and School Association ran an auction that brought in $50,000 for the school.

Some of the money was used for school supplies such as smart boards, computers, books, even pens and pencils. Teachers simply submitted applications asking for their classroom materials.

“It all depends on what the teachers need,” Masterman’s outgoing Home and School Association President Angelina Williams said. “They’re with the students every day and they know what they need better than we do.

If you are interest in supporting a classroom or want to find out what are the needs at your child’s school, you can check out websites like DonorsChoose.org or Adoptaclassroom.org or simply talk to your child’s teacher.
 

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