Westerville Education Foundation's Website, Fundraising Tools Cited in Dispatch Article


By Shannon Gilchrist, The Columbus Dispatch

Posted Nov 15, 2015 at 12:01 AMUpdated Nov 15, 2015 at 5:58 PM

Pedaling while reading a book or drawing seems as though it would be precarious, but students in Tina Swearengin’s fifth-grade class at Worthington’s Granby Elementary School say it’s a breeze. Relaxing, even. “There’s like a desk here,” 10-year-old Nolan Schreiber said while demonstrating. Ten- and 11-year-olds are wiggly, and Swearengin said that sitting still for a long time taxes their focus and impedes learning. Pedaling while reading a book or drawing seems as though it would be precarious, but students in Tina Swearengin’s fifth-grade class at Worthington’s Granby Elementary School say it’s a breeze. Relaxing, even. “There’s like a desk here,” 10-year-old Nolan Schreiber said while demonstrating. Ten- and 11-year-olds are wiggly, and Swearengin said that sitting still for a long time taxes their focus and impedes learning. A few weeks ago, she bought six Stamina Wirk Ride Cycling Workstations with the help of 23 online donors. It took nine days, until Oct. 26, to raise $1,588.40 using the education crowdfunding website donorschoose.org Parents and former students sent encouragement along with money: “I’m so happy to help!” one posted on the site. “Ride on, gators!” wrote another. Sometimes, inspiration strikes a teacher at a time that doesn’t align with the school’s budgeting process or a traditional grant program. That’s where crowdfunding has helped educators such as Swearengin to fulfill their wish lists. AdoptAClassroom.org allows teachers to post specific projects or even a general plea for help to buy supplies. Donors can search by city, school name, teacher’s name or category of greatest funding need. A search of AdoptAClassroom.org shows that Reynoldsburg eSTEM teacher Andrea Callicoat needs supplies for 10th-grade biology: “I love to do hands-on learning, but lab supplies are very costly.” Stacey Oberting, who teaches kindergarten at Columbus’ Cassady Alternative Elementary School, writes: “A CD/mp3 listening center would be awesome. The kids love to listen to someone else read a book.” Or this request from Donna Fisher, an intervention specialist at Groveport Madison South Middle School: “If my struggling readers had more book options at their reading level, they would be more engaged, and more excited to read.” Westerville’s staff does crowdfunding directly through the Westerville Education Foundation’s website www.westervilleeducationfoundation.com. It’s easier for teachers to use and local donors to find, said foundation President Courtney Massey. The concept is attractive to givers, too. “Our experience showed us that donors wanted something specific and tangible to which they could donate their money,” Massey said. The foundation awards traditional grants twice a year. “We saw lots of ideas that were coming up outside of the grant cycle,” Massey said. Taking its inspiration from a Florida nonprofit group with its own crowdfunding platform, Westerville’s foundation launched Fund-a-Project and Adopt-a-Classroom last year. In October, Westerville’s newly opened Longfellow All-Day Kindergarten raised $500 through Fund-a-Project to paint the playground asphalt in fun and educational patterns. Adopt-a-Classroom was slower to take off, raising $280 last year. To boost the program, the foundation is holding a competition, through Friday, promising matching funds and other prizes to entice teachers and schools to spread the word. In less than two weeks, that effort has raised $2,560 for Westerville classrooms. In Worthington, Swearengin’s successful donorschoose.org campaign inspired fellow Granby teacher Todd Korn to set up a page to buy Kore Wobble Chairs for the sixth-graders in his math and language-arts classes. The stool for children rocks on a domed base and “redirects the energy that’s vibrating through the body in an uncomfortable chair during a lesson,” Korn said. He raised the $513 in two days. Among the donors were former students, families of current students and his mother-in-law. “It’s an avenue to get at some of those other resources that are outside the box,” Korn said. ” It’s gonna help these kids so much, absolutely. I’d do it again.”

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