I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Small-grant service for teachers relies on donors to fund what schools cannot
Yesterday, the New Mexican reported on the anniversary of Dollars4Schools.org, a website that allows teachers to raise money for applied learning activities for their students.
From the article:
Dollars4Schools … has raised more than $100,000 and funded 60 programs within Santa Fe Public Schools in a year.
The site lists a number of various school programs requiring somewhere between $100 and $3,000 in funding. Teachers create the grants requests for the site. The minimum pledge is $25, and donors can go directly to the site — dollars4schools.org — to make a general pledge or focus in on a specific program or school.
The Community Foundation will completely take over the site by the end of this calendar year. SantaFe.com had already formed a partnership with the foundation and Santa Fe Public Schools, with no overhead to the site, that ensured that every dollar donated went directly to the programs.
Many of the programs funded employ a method called project-based learning, in which students tackle a subject by completing projects or activities that build on the content available through textbooks.
One grant proposal, with a financial contribution target of $409, would provide materials for 109 seventh- and eighth-graders for detailed projects helping explicate concepts in biology.
Another teacher asks for $500 (the instructor will assume the cost of shipping and handling the products) towards buying 25 microscope slides and six duo-scope microscopes for a month-long biology project. In the grant pitch, the teacher links to articles from the National Science Board and National Science Foundation that warn a drop-off in science and math acumen among elementary school children will undermine future U.S. growth.
Studies like this one from researchers in Hong Kong show project-based learning leads to positive gains in literacy and promote self-confidence among students, which encourages students to pursue inquiry on their own.
Other activities looking for funding include after-school programs. A charter school asked for $125 from donors to fund weekly learning-based clubs. The campus is set in a rural environment, meaning parent drive-times to pick up their children are longer than urban areas.
In a recent study released by the National Center on Time and Learning, additional school-sponsored instruction was found to improve test scores and provided a greater likelihood of students having their interests piqued by electives such as art or dance. During an event in Washington D.C. that featured panelists articulating the findings of the study, Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the audience, “we don’t need to study this issue anymore … [time] is a desperately important resource that has been under-utilized.”