Appealing to the Masses



It seems that crowdfunding is everywhere you look today. If you need a little refresher, crowdfunding is in essence the pooling together of resources, typically on a grassroots level, either locally or worldwide via the Internet, in order to fund an independent project. Just take a few of our past stories for example: Flint Soup, Gen Forward, and even the use of Kickstarter for Spencer’s House (in this issue). Whatever the need, it looks like crowdfunding is the simple yet effective way to gain the means necessary to accomplish an end. This month’s showcased crowdfunding resource of choice is is not rooted in Flint, but many in our back yard are utilizing its impressive fund-raising capabilities. Social studies teacher Charles Best of New York started over a decade ago to supply a forum for teachers to post information about their classroom needs online for the public to view and support. He knew from experience that many teachers are often placed in an uncomfortable situation in which their school’s budget cannot cover the cost of supplies, even those considered necessities.

Take for instance Flint Northwestern High School French teacher, Kimberly Petrie, who found herself without textbooks and additional support materials for her students. Any educator in this situation usually has two options: badger the administration for help while knowing that their hands are tied, or pay out of pocket to keep things going. Petrie, who usually resorts to the latter option, was made aware of through a friend’s Facebook post. After looking at how things worked on the website, she decided to give it a shot.

“I thought, ‘I’m just going to try it,’” says Petrie. “‘Who knows?’” The purpose of her fund-raising campaign was to purchase French-English bilingual dictionaries. Within three weeks of making her request known online, the amount she needed was met. Petrie was able to raise about $280 dollars to go toward purchasing enough dictionaries for students to use. The process ultimately went smoother than she had expected, with the exception of one step, in which she was required to list specifics about her needs. These specifics Petrie was willing to give, although she was not too excited about having to write in detail. She humorously exclaims, “I didn’t want to write an essay, I just wanted some dictionaries!”

Petrie isn’t the only local educator using in an effort to close the gap between desired standards and necessary funds. A mid-November search for “Flint, MI” on the website produced a dozen different campaigns, including a call for children’s literature, art supplies and even puzzles. Estimated project costs ranged from $200 to $1,500.

Petrie says she will “definitely use Donors Choose again in the future.” She admits that she was not sure how the public would respond to her request, so she didn’t ask for much; however, fresh from the success of her first attempt, she is much more confident and thus more willing to try for other supplies that might be considered less basic, but would still be very useful to her and her students.

Be sure to check out throughout the school year to see if there is anything that you might be able to support or provide to local teachers and students who are in need.


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