It’s called DonorsChoose. Since August, 22 Timberland teachers have posted 125 projects and 110 have been funded for a total of $29,698.17. In total Timberland has received $111,103 for 368 projects, filling 54 teachers’ requests through 1,303 donors. The projects have been for basic supplies, technology, books, and art supplies.
Founded in 2000 by a high school teacher in the Bronx, DonorsChoose empowers public school teachers from across the country to request much-needed materials for their students. Currently, there are thousands of teacher requests that donors can help bring to life with a gift of any amount. More than five million supporters have funded 2.210 million projects. Several large companies will match donors’ gifts as well, such as Kleenex matching health and wellness projects.
Taurins is Timberland’s teacher ambassador; she has encouraged teachers to put in project funding requests for her five years at Timberland and even before she worked at National Heritage Academies (NHA).
“What’s unique is if I want Dixon Ticonderoga pencils, I can ask specifically for that. If I want earbuds instead of earphones, I can ask for that. I can ask for a particular brand,” Taurins said.
Timberland has a DonorsChoose page which gives potential donors a lot of details about the school — it’s location, grades served, number of students and teachers. It also shares the ethnic breakdown of our students, the percentage of students who receive free or reduced-price lunch and what percentage of Timberland donors are from Michigan or out-of-state.
The Timberland page also shows the projects listed for the school and the teachers who have posted them. The teachers can add thank you messages to the website as well.
Teachers put together a request with a couple of paragraphs explaining what they need and why they need it. By choosing specific items and selecting a brand name, a cost can be designated to the request. A representative at DonorsChoose reviews the request before it goes live. Once the request is funded by donors, staff members at DonorsChoose purchase the items and ship it directly to the school.
“I want to emphasize that NHA is great about making sure that we have what we need for our classrooms,” Taurins said. “These requests help us offer an enhanced or deeper experience, help the students connect a little bit more.”
Specific Timberland Projects
- Eight digital microscopes for middle school science; an additional related project is lab coats to stress that the students are scientists.
- Christmas bags filled with items for our third-grade classrooms. Taurins wrote several little mini requests for this. The largest was for navy blue hoodies, which are uniform regulation, but to make them special Taurins used a Cricut machine to cut out each student’s name and adhered it to the top left of the hoodie. Other items were water bottles and books. “It helped me fill a need for a warm jacket, everyone got a present and it was personalized,” said Taurins.
- PBIS – positive behavior interventions and support items.
Timberland Charter Academy is part of National Heritage Academies (NHA), a charter school management company in Grand Rapids, Mich. with 98 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.