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Non-profit website helps fund classroom projects

Non-profit website helps fund classroom projects
Posted at 6:00 PM, Sep 28, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-28 20:07:46-04

BOUNTIFUL, Utah -- A first grade teacher in Bountiful raised thousands of dollars for her classroom with the help of a non-profit website.

The site, DonorsChoose.org, offers a platform for public school teachers to seek money for projects their schools or districts cannot afford.

Valley View Elementary teacher Michelle Francis used the site to fund more than 40 projects for her first grade class.

The site allows teachers like Francis to expand their budgets in order to afford materials like books, art supplies and high-tech training equipment.

“Just last school year $150,000 was donated to Davis School District,” said Christopher Guymon, a spokesman for DonorsChoose.org.

Francis showed FOX 13 the digital equipment she bought with funds raised through the website.

“None of it was provided by the school district. Through help from companies and individuals, we've been able to get about $5,000 worth of equipment in our classroom,” said Francis.

One of the website-funded items Francis uses is an instant voting device. She uses the devices not just for quick quizzes, but to offer a way for shy students to signal they need help with a push of a button. 

“With the voting, I can pre-program it for an end-of-unit test to answer certain questions, or I can ask opinion questions and I can get answers right away and then program it to have the kids answer where everyone can see it so we can discuss it,” explains Francis. “Or I can have where nobody can see it so kids don't feel embarrassed because they don't know the answer.”

The Bountiful teacher thinks it is the future of education.

“I just did a seven-question test and to grade it, it's going to take me less than two minutes to go and grade it and see it, and to get that instant feedback from the kids [about] how they're feeling in the classroom,” said Francis.

Almost 160,000 teachers nationwide have used the website to raise more than $71 million for classroom projects and supplies.