DonorsChoose Illustrates Educational Needs, Priorities

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Pioneering crowd-funding site DonorsChoose.org revealed that students across the country lack access to basic educational supplies, among which are books, office equipment, electronics and classroom games.

The nonprofit organization operates by letting teachers of various subjects and from a number of schools post the educational materials they need along with approximate cost. Requests range from pencils and paper for a writing workshop at a Buffalo elementary school to hydrogen fuel cells for a class in Seattle learning about alternative energy, says Victoria Grantham of the New York Post. Individuals or organizations connected within the site simply choose one or more of the projects and transfer funds.

Aiding over 13 million students since its introduction in 2000, the online charity recently released data, calculated by the company Market Data Retrieval, to The Huffington Post regarding teachers’ requirements for their classrooms and their locations.

Charles Best, CEO and founder of DonorsChoose, told The Huffington Post that most of the requests are for basics.

“About half of the projects on our site are for really essential materials and experiences that you can’t quite believe students don’t have.”

The data highlighted how the needs for education supplies were dispersed proportionally between both moderate and low-income schools. Around 36 percent of schools nationwide are classified as highest poverty based on the percentage of their student population who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, while 5 percent of schools are considered low poverty, writes Rebecca Klein of The Huffington Post. The data showed that 41 percent of projects posted by teachers from October 2013 to October 2014 were from the “highest poverty” schools, while 4 percent were posted by teachers from “low poverty” schools.

The data showed that the most requested item by teachers from various schools throughout the year was books. There is a scarcity of books in both high and low poverty schools, with demands from the poorest schools alone were over 120,000 books. The second and third most pleaded for items were children’s toys and games.

Data also communicated that the call for educational resources is not restricted to schools in specific areas of the country.

Best also explained about the gravity of such educational needs and why, till now, they have not been taken seriously.

“The problem we’re trying to tackle is people are only aware of these classroom needs in an abstract, statistical sense, and if you’re only aware of a problem intellectually and statistically, you’re probably not thinking about that problem when you go into the voting booth and you’re probably not that fired up about the problem.”

He also stated how connecting to his site allowed donors to develop strong relationships with the individuals and communities they were aiding, especially through the tokens of appreciation they receive, and makes them understand the lack of equity in education “far more effectively and powerfully than I think a white paper would from a think tank.”