baby birds looking for worms
March 22, 2004 7:57 AM   Subscribe

Donors Choose "Public school teachers use Donors Choose to propose resources for their students. Concerned individuals like you can then select a proposal to fund."
posted by FunkyHelix (14 comments total)
I would love to participate in this, but the minimum donation on most of the projects for partial funding is $50, and range as high as $400. I know $20 dollars isn't a lot, but I suspect a lot more people can afford to spare twenty than fifty. I hope they all manage to meet their goals, though; I didn't read a single entry that wasn't incredibly worthy of attention.
posted by headspace at 8:07 AM on March 22, 2004

Er, isn't the point of public schools that they're funded by tax dollars?

I hate these programs, because I think people's time would be better spent lobbying for decent public funding of education than begging for (or giving) little dollops of alms.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:55 AM on March 22, 2004

And so continues the whoring-out of public education...
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 9:26 AM on March 22, 2004

A crappy school will still be crappy if you give them 20 bucks.

"White people [give to] school
Where they teach you how to be thick."
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:37 AM on March 22, 2004

*licks finger and sticks it into the air* I believe the cynicism is coming in a north westerly direction, with a hint of sarcasm.

Okay, okay, you want to complain that public education sucks, fine. You want to say that public education is being whored-out, so be it. But what I think you may fail to understand is just how tied public schools are when it comes to budgeting and funding. Yes Sidhedevil, schools are funded by tax dollars, but all of those tax dollars are bound up in a giant sucky ball of red tape. Public schools can't spend money and divvy (sp?) budgets however they choose, they have to make sure they comply with all state and federal education regulations before any "surplus" money (HA!) is spread around towards projects such as the ones mentioned on these websites.

Being the daughter of a public school administrator who does budgeting for special programs has always kept my eyes wide open on what a public school can and can't do. That they run at all is sometimes a miracle, considering how politicians tell them how to spend their money. *Stepping down off my soapbox*

Personally, I think it's a wonderful idea to make a website where teachers can propose the funding of projects. After all, isn't this what grant writing is all about?
posted by BurnedEve at 10:34 AM on March 22, 2004

I think the reason the minimal donation is so high is because each donor will be getting photographs and thank-you notes from teachers and students. This feedback seems to be big deal for the program; it gives a way for donors to know that their money was used for the purpose specified and provides a connection between the donor and their patrons. It might not be as practical with smaller donations.
posted by Alison at 10:58 AM on March 22, 2004

This site is amazingly cool. Thanks for the link.
posted by Prospero at 11:29 AM on March 22, 2004

Good point, Alison. Wish they had a "I'm cheap, don't waste the postage on me!" option, though. :)
posted by headspace at 11:32 AM on March 22, 2004

I agree. Read the grants and it talks about the 'fulfillment' expenses that include disposable cameras and thank you notes. Given a choice, I'd really rather not pay for them to send me a thank you note. It's a little like buying my own Christmas present.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:00 PM on March 22, 2004

The thank you notes though also a function as a measure of accountabilty, I imagine. It lets you know that your money made it through and wasn't swallowed up somewhere in between.
posted by vacapinta at 12:34 PM on March 22, 2004

I agree headspace. It's possible to send suggestions to the founder: charles -at - I just sent one asking about smaller donations. Maybe they could use the money to cover their operating costs.
posted by Alison at 2:59 PM on March 22, 2004

Public school should be funded with taxes. Yup. Should in one hand, shite in the other, see which comes true. Meanwhile, what about the kids? I guess they should just go without 'till someone comes along and fixes the tax funding problems (in a generation or 6).

I see a great potential to this concept, although a quick look didn't spot anything I felt compelled to support. I went to school in a wealthy district where we often went door-to-door to raise funds for specific things (Band boosters & choral boosters stick in my mind). Lots of things would have been done without if folks in town lacked spare cash.

My concern with some of what I saw was that the donations were going for extra stuff, while my concern is more for those places that lack the basics.
posted by Goofyy at 2:55 AM on March 23, 2004

Hi, full disclosure here: I work for Donors Choose as their tech director.

I think some of the comments here are absolutely correct: the public schools should be funded properly by government. However, the reality is that right now, public schools are inadequately funded, particularly in poor neighborhoods, since schools are usually funded using property taxes. So right now there is a need, and Donors Choose hopes to fill that gap.

In addition, as noted above, many special and creative projects aren't going to be funded even if the school districts have enough money, so we hope to help people raise money for those needs as well.

90% of the projects funded by Donors Choose are in high need areas (high poverty level). So the vast majority of money is going to the students with the highest financial need.

As for basic needs --- there are a mix of projects on the site, including many basic needs proposals. I am working hard with the staff here at Donors Choose to improve the usability of the site, so it is easier to find the sorts of proposals you might want to fund, be in creative innovative projects or basic needs. We will be making that search option easier to use. Suffice it to say that there are many requests for basic supplies, books, paper, things of that sort, on there, if you are willing to look for them.

We are also planning to make it possible to give a smaller amount and get electronic, rather than paper, feedback when the project is done. This will be rolled out in the next revision of the website.
posted by mitsu at 9:12 AM on March 26, 2004

That is awesome, mitsu, thank you so much for stopping by. I'm not exactly rolling in it, myself, but I like to donate when I can. Knowing there's a possibility in the future to help fund in a range I can manage sounds wonderful!
posted by headspace at 2:33 PM on April 3, 2004

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