Donors choose to help Fremont

Microscopes, science posters and a human mannequin now enhance Kerry Sullivan’s physiology classroom at College Preparatory & Architecture Academy – thanks to an organization called Donors Choose.

Donors Choose helps teachers around the country raise money for projects, classroom supplies and even trips. Donors Choose has raised almost $4 million in Northern California for 9,632 projects, according to the organization’s Web site.

“I love this program because it has helped me a lot,” said Sullivan “Science materials cost a lot of money and Donors Choose is necessary because it helps schools for the material they need.”

Sullivan, who recommends the program to other teachers, had her latest project funded on Jan .7. She received dissection materials, including animal hearts and brains.

To get help through Donors Choose, teachers must write a proposal and answer questions about how the materials will help their students.

The proposal, if approved, then gets posted on www.donorschoose.org. People all over the world who want to help public schools can then see the proposal and make a tax-deductible donation.

Once enough people donate to the proposal, Donors Choose buys the materials and sends them to the teacher. Teachers then must take photographs of students using the materials and get them to write thank you letters. If the teachers meets deadlines for these requirements, they can earn points that let them make other proposal on Donors Choose.

Sarah Mazzotta, a math and chemistry teacher at Media Academy, earned a class set of small dry-erase boards and markers as well as a set of calculators through Donors Choose.

“This is a great tool for teachers,” said Mazzotta. “This also helps the community get more involved with education.”

Perhaps the Fremont Federation teacher who has benefited from Donors Choose the most is Media Academy journalism teacher Lisa Shafer

Shafer received classroom sets of two books, a couple of cameras, a printer cartridge, press passes and copy paper in the last four years.

But she also has raised money to take students on field trips. Last year, she took Makender Jean-Philippe and Violet Souksavath to Phoenix for a national journalism convention with Donors Choose money.

“Donors Choose program has help me tremendously. It let me explore more about journalism, let me make alot of friends and I had a lot of fun traveling to a state I’ve bever stepped foot in,” said Jean-Philippe.

This year, Shafer raised $20,000 through Donors Choose to produce the Oaktown Teen Times, a newspaper that goes out for 10,000 students six times a year. The school district doesn’t fund the paper, so she needed to find other ways to pay for editors, scholarships and trips.

“The OTT might have died without Donors Choose,” said Shafer. “Donors Choose has allowed teens all over Oakland to continue to publish their opinions and to write about issues that are important to them.”