Wednesday, October 1, 2008

DonorsChoose - Targeted Gifts to Public School Class Projects

So, I may be a giant, bleeding heart but I think we can all agree that the crazed roller coaster our economy's been on over the last couple weeks does NOT mean that the public school systems have won the lottery. I'm just sayin'. Anyways, just because none of us will ever be able to retire doesn't mean that we have nothing left to give! Check out the widget on the sidebar of my blog (top right) and click through if you are so inspired. Give a buck, give a couple thousand, whatever it is, I know it will help. This organization seems pretty cool. They ask teachers for projects and then - without having to funnel the money through some giant Kafkaesque bureaucracy !cough! DCPS - they send the materials right on over to the schools.

Those of you who know me in real life know my dad's a huge birdwatcher and naturalist. That's why this program description pretty much made my heart go pitter-pat:

"I'm the visual arts teacher at a Title I elementary school in southeast Washington, DC. I currently teach visual arts to over 400 students in grades ranging from Head Start (two-year-olds) to 5th grade (twelve-year-olds). I have been teaching in the same school for the past ten years.

Our local park is truly a gem in our Nation’s Capital. It offers visitors an opportunity to reflect and soothe their spirits through the beauty of nature. Fresh air, majestic trees, wild animals, and the ebb and flow of the creek emanate the delicate aura of the forest. It is the home to over 200 different species of birds.

Birdwatching means learning to identify the birds and understand what they are doing. Life suddenly gets more interesting when you become aware of the varied bird life all around you. To do this effectively the naked eye alone is not sufficient enough, in order to do it efficiently the students will need medium powered binoculars to explore the nearby park habitat and find the various birds in their natural habitat and the notebooks so the student can be effective recorders. The books would let the students match their birds with the correct species that are commonly found in North America, more specifically Washington, DC.

With your help my students will have the opportunity to further their experience in life science while exploring a new lifetime hobby. Research has shown that children who do not regularly encounter wildlife, develop unreasonable fears. Everything wild becomes strange and scary. Studies also suggest that unless these personal connections are made in early childhood, they may not be possible on such a deep, meaningful level.

My students need 20 pairs of binoculars, steno pads and 2 Birds of North America resource books. The cost of this proposal is $1,129."

Imagine being able to give a child something tangible that might kindle in him or her your father's lifelong passion. Sold!

There are projects of all sorts, something to tug at your personal heartstrings no matter their flavor. I wrote about the details to kick off the month-long DC Metro Moms Challenge if you want to read about more unbelievable reqests (like from a PE teacher who has no equipment and all he's asking for is hula hoops and bean bags. Sigh. Banging head on keyboard). What an inspired idea to give teachers the power to instantly make their students' lives more fulfilling.

Thanks for reading, folks, and if you're a blogger and feel so inclined, spread the word! If you're a person with a change jar you can swing into action, do it! I appreciate your generosity from the bottom of my heart.


Susannah said...

I hesitate to post this since I don't want to fight the crowds that hopefully will show up, but my friend Ralph Alswang is holding a fundraiser for DonorsChoose on Sunday in Georgetown. He is an AMAZING photographer (see:

Here is the info:

To benefit Washington DC classrooms through, I'm going to be hosting a photo day on October 5th from 9:30am-4:30pm at Zone Zero Gallery in Georgetown. I'll do a professional family photo sitting, and In lieu of my normal fee, I'm requesting that you donate $250 on site to a Washington DC project on

When: October 5, 2008, 9:30-4:30pm; come when you'd like

Where: Zone Zero Gallery, 1000 Wisconsin Ave, NW at Wisconsin and K, 3rd floor, Washington, DC

MamaBird said...

Wow, Susannah, that is so cool! I know you love his photography (he did her headshot, folks). Thanks so much for the heads-up. Heh heh.

Anonymous said...

This is such an awesome way to support our local schools (and so infuriating to read about teachers needing paper!), but I have no idea how to pick just one. My grandparents were avid birdwatchers too...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great cause. I remember a guy telling me that, by homeschooling, I was depriving public schools of funds, effort and knowledge, that I'd otherwise be contributing. I've felt guilty about that, taking every chance to support local schools that I can get.

Nora Bee said...

This seems like a great organization. I'll go check it out now...

Pink & Green Mama said...

What a great post, thanks so much for telling us about this. I plan to check it out! Thanks.