Like most teachers, Kathy Sergeant used her own money to buy additional and even basic school supplies to give her students what they needed in class.
But then Sergeant, a teacher at Ronald Brown Academy in Detroit, found another option: a website called DonorsChoose.org that allows teachers to create a project and request the resources their students need. Donors then give to the projects that inspire them.
The first project Sergeant received funding for was a saltwater fish tank for her fourth-grade science students about 10 years ago. Today, Sergeant has had more than 100 projects funded and estimates she has $100,000 in donated books, technology, STEM kits and other materials. Field trips and speakers have also been funded, she said.
“You should see my room. I have iPads, latops. It’s amazing,” Sergeant said. “It allows me to stock up on supplies. We have awesome supplies now. We didn’t used to,” she said.
Officials with DonorsChoose.org, the education nonprofit that runs the program, said on Thursday the site has funded 1 million project requests nationwide. To celebrate the milestone, it is matching public donations to all 35,000 projects live on the site on Thursday.
In Michigan, $13.9 million has been raised for projects in public schools with 58 percent coming from out-of-state donors, the company said. About 25,000 projects have been funded statewide with 5,800 projects in Detroit involving 1,800 Detroit teachers.
The most frequently requested items for Michigan classrooms are books, computers & tablets and education games
DonorsChoose.org was founded in 2000 by Charles Best, a history teacher in the Bronx and opened to public school educators in all 50 states in 2007.
“These million projects represent a million moments where the public told teachers, ‘We’ve got your back.’ I'm so proud that DonorsChoose.org has become a community where teachers and their ideas are valued, respected, and supported,” Best said.
Since DonorsChoose.org was founded, the organization has brought $627 million in funding to public schools in all 50 states, reached more than 26 million students and helped fundraise in three quarters of all U.S. public schools.
Nearly 3 million people have donated to classroom project requests on the website, helping fund basic supplies, books, instruments, field trips, technology, and other items for educators across the country.