9/25/2012 6:00:00 AM Competitive grant opportunities open up for Kingman educators
Ahron Sherman Miner Staff Reporter
Horace Mann, an insurance company founded by educators, is set to launch its fall "Imagine a Better Classroom" campaign with DonorsChoose.org by releasing $250,000 Monday.
DonorsChoose.org is an online nonprofit company that allows teachers and schools to seek funding for classroom projects by posting them on the website. Starting Monday, the local Horace Mann will match every $1 to $100 donation given to local projects posted on DonorsChoose.org until the money - available to Horace Mann locations nationwide - runs out.
Based on available data, "We expect the money to last about five weeks," said Jo Long, local Horace Mann licensed insurance specialist.
People who post projects on the site must work for a public school. For one's project to qualify for the matching funds, he or she must work for a school that lists Horace Mann as an approved vendor. All Kingman Unified School District and Kingman Academy of Learning schools do just that.
Right now, there are 25 Kingman-based projects posted, including 14 by Cerbat Elementary School.
Once a teacher gets a project funded through DonorsChoose.org, word spreads throughout the school, prompting more teachers to post projects, Long said.
"It's amazing how viral this thing becomes," she said.
Here's how to get started.
First, create a project. As long as it's educational in nature and will directly benefit the associated classroom or school, you're on the right track.
Consider Cerbat Elementary second-grade teacher Brittany Winnie's current project, "Watching Science Unfold in Real Life."
She's requesting $273.76 for materials that will allow her students to watch butterflies emerge from their cocoons and ants carve intricate tunnels.
The use of the materials fits with what students learn in her classroom.
"My students don't get a lot of real-life experience related to what we are learning," Winnie wrote on her project page. "Many have never left our small town in the desert. These science resources will let me bring to our classroom some of the awe that you can experience at a zoo or natural history museum."
She posted the project Sept. 10, and it is already almost completely funded.
After you've created the project using DonorsChoose.org's online mall of approved vendors, post it.
The site has a review team that will look at the project, make sure the financial details are accurate and decide whether or not the project is educationally viable.
Next, you'll need to call Long at the local Horace Mann for the code that allows the company to match donations. Though the codes won't be available until Monday, starting the process now will lead to teachers getting them via email Monday morning.
Long is also available to help guide teachers through the project-creation process, so if people feel overwhelmed with the prospect of creating and posting a project in the next week, call her at (928) 718-1212.
"Donors Choose tells us that 65 percent of the projects nationwide listed for $500 or less will get funded when teachers simply post it and walk away," Long said. "But by posting a link to your project on your Facebook page or by including it in your email signature - just basic marketing - you can increase your chances of getting funded to 85, 90 or 100 percent, depending on what you put into it."
For donors, all the information you could want is included with each project, which can be easily accessed by using the site's search function.
Also, a list of items, their prices and what vendors they come from is on the project's page, allowing donors to really see what their money is helping buy.