A new website allows business and community donors in Alachua County to support education by funding teacher requests for classroom materials that would normally come out of the teachers’ pockets.
Susan Ling, an art teacher at Newberry Elementary School, told her students they are getting a new easel for the class. Now the students will be able to look at different art techniques displayed on the easel and apply it to their own work.
Through The Education Foundation of Alachua County’s new teacher grant program, donors are funding Ling’s request for a new easel. The program Find It & Fund It has already fulfilled grants of up to $1,500 in seven Alachua County public schools since its August launch.
Since the start of the current school year, teachers have submitted their grant requests for approval. Once accepted by the principal or designated authority at the school, the grant requests are sent to The Education Foundation of Alachua County for further validation, according to its website.
The approved grant requests are posted on the Find It & Fund It website for parents, alumni, businesses, community members and anyone interested in donating. Donors can browse for a specific school, teacher, subject or project name. Alachua County currently has over 50 requests for funding.
Donors may reveal their name or remain anonymous if preferred.
After her grant request was fulfilled, Ling said, “The students were happy that someone they didn’t know wanted to help us.”
Ling said she is impressed with the program and how easy it is to upload grant requests to the website for any interested in contributing.
According to Judy Boles, executive director of The Education Foundation of Alachua County, a summer meeting between members of the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations influenced Alachua County to pursue a teacher grant program. Broward, Indian River, Lake and Polk counties have also adopted the Find It & Fund It program.
The education foundation in Collier County, Champions For Learning, has been funding teacher grants since the early 1990s. In 2003, it started the online program Connect With A Classroom to fulfill teacher grants of up to $2,000, according to its website.
Connect With A Classroom inspired Alachua County to adopt the Find It & Fund It program, said Boyles.
Robert Moramarco, a math teacher at Eastside High School, posted a request on Aug. 28 for an all-in-one scanner, copier and printer. His grant request has already been fulfilled.
Moramarco plans to scan assignments to upload to the class website, make copies of worksheets for students and to print progress reports for students and parents.
“I absolutely love the Find It & Fund It website and have shared it with friends in many other counties and states,” Moramarco said. “They are going to try to get this program in their area.”
Moramarco and other teachers have spread the word about their grant requests using Facebook and other social media websites, as well as through email, Moramarco said.
The Education Foundation of Alachua County has created a Facebook page to help teachers promote the grants they have posted and help them fulfill all requests.
“We don’t have a lot of money to buy these materials that will help enhance the way our kids learn,” Boles said. “But we know this community has a passion for education and we think this program will help teachers get what they need.”