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Teachers try online crowdfunding sites for projects

posted Aug 7, 2014, 1:53 AM by Siamak Ebarhimi

Struggling artists aren’t the only ones who turn to online crowdfunding sites to raise money for their projects.

Last year, Courtney Reichert, a teacher at Pottsville Area’s John S. Clarke Elementary, raised $350 through to buy five iPods, and this year, she’s trying to raise $340 for a “literacy center” with a mobile easel. As of Tuesday, there was one donor who gave $40 toward it, according to the site.crowdfunding marketing

“I read about them on teacher blogs for the last three to five years, and I just thought it was such a neat idea. The school district has so many different classrooms to fund and they get us what we need. But these are supplemental things that I would like to see in my room that will expand learning for our students,” Reichert said.

Crowdfunding is “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet,”.crowdfunding advertising

“A great additional benefit to crowdfunding is its economical helping hand. Anything that aids in generating revenue is desperately needed in our sluggard economy, and crowdfunding has proven to be a powerful force. Not only is it pumping small businesses with desperately needed lifeblood, but it is also encouraging entrepreneurs to continue creating even in the face of these slow times,” according to an article on

In tough economic times, school teachers are turning to such options to improve the equipment in their classrooms, according to

“A number of options are available for educators looking to venture outside of the typical realm of Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Whether you’re in a K-12 classroom or a university research lab, one of these options may be just what you’re looking for to fund everything from paper and crayons to tomorrow’s next big discovery,” according to that site.indiegogo marketing

Established in 2000, is an online charity which requests donations ­— as little as $1 — to set up an online fundraising page for classroom projects. But according to the site, it’s “completely free for teachers to use” and 70 percent of projects posted there are “successfully funded.”

Teachers are given a three-month time frame to raise the funding and if the total funding isn’t raised, it’s returned to the donors, according to Sean Smith, a teacher at North Schuylkill High School who’s trying for the first time this year.

He’s one of three teachers from North Schuylkill School District trying to raise funds through the site.

• Matt Wislosky is trying to raise $383 for an “autistic support iPad mini.” As of Tuesday, there were no donations toward it.

“An iPad mini would be a great asset to the students in our Autistic Support classroom. Like most students, they all love technology and they have fun with lessons or apps presented on the iPad. While we do have access to one iPad in the Autistic Support room, an iPad mini would be a great tool to use while the Autistic Support students are in the regular education classroom. As you find with many children who have Autism, they respond really well to visuals and different ways of explaining things,” Wislosky said on the site.

• Jake Price is trying to raise $1,025 for a display panel for an annual art show. As of Tuesday, there were no donations toward it.kickstarter marketing

“Students in my classes and in this junior/senior high school need art. There is so much talent here and I am happy to be one of the art teachers helping students with their artistic abilities. My students come from broken homes, from parents who have drug and alcohol addictions and who have real-life problems. However, in this high school, students get the chance to free themselves from those issues and express who they really want to be and I love being a role model for them,” Price said on the site.

“Having new display panels for students to display their artwork will give students a sense of pride in their work. If the students know that their artwork could be displayed for all to see, they will give their best effort and the quality of student artwork will improve,” Price said on the site.

• Smith is trying to raise $1,962.89 for a portable sound system. As of Tuesday, only $50 was given. So there’s $1,912.89 to go.crowdfunding websites

“A typical day in my classroom involves conversation about student understanding through analysis of literature and how it applies to their personal lives. My school district has a student body that really understands the importance of presentation and performance. Our music and theater departments have grown significantly in the past few years; students showcase their talents in a variety of events that are held within the district or that are open to the public,” Smith said on the website.

“Although I am an English teacher, I am also an advocate for all of our student organizations. The equipment will not be used directly in my classroom, but rather would benefit the entire school. The equipment requested would be used in a portable PA system that organizations could schedule for use. I have already donated my own time and some of my personal equipment to help update the school’s lacking audio resources,” Smith said.

Smith said he learned about the site from his wife, Dotty, a teacher at Mount Carmel Area Elementary School, who’s using to raise funds to buy two items, a document camera worth $525 and an iPad Mini worth $383.kickstarter project

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By David Khorram