A nonprofit education funding website is launching a campaign to help teachers raise money to host “family engagement nights” at their schools.
DonorsChoose.org, which operates like a crowdfunding site for teachers, is working with the Carnegie Corporation of New York to help promote “family engagement nights,” where educators can better connect with the parents of students in their classrooms.
Celeste Ford, spokeswoman for the foundation, told Education Week Carnegie plans to match up to $500,000 of money raised for the family engagement nights through teacher proposals posted to DonorsChoose.org.
The website has helped educators raise money for their classrooms for 20 years, and Carnegie will be looking for creativity in proposals for the family engagement nights to match money raised dollar-for-dollar. Tim Sommer, partnerships director at DonorsChoose.org, said the website expects to receive about 200 proposals from across the country.
“Teachers of all grade levels are eligible to apply, including those in early childhood programs, Sommer said. They will follow the same pitch process as they would for any fundraising campaign on DonorsChoose.org, but must focus on explaining why they need certain supplies for their particular idea for a family engagement night,” Education Week reports.
The news site notes that the effort coincides with a change in federal regulations in the Every Student Succeeds Act that replaced a focus on “parental involvement” with one of “parent and family engagement.”
“Moral education can work where the community, and schools and other institutions within it, share a moral culture that is integrated and mutually reinforcing; where the social networks of adult authority are strong, unified, and consistent in articulating moral ideals and their attending virtues; and where adults maintain a ‘caring watchfulness’ over all aspects of a young person’s maturation,” University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter writes in The Tragedy of Moral Education in America.
Fold told Education Week that fostering a closer connection between families and teachers is a growing priority for education philanthropists. The partnership with DonorsChoose.org is designed to provide funding to make that happen.
Teachers can set up a campaign on the website, and explain what goods they may need to host a family engagement night. DonorsChoose.org screens applications to ensure they’re legitimate, and that teachers requesting help are from a traditional public school or public charter school. Once approved, the fundraising begins and can last up to four months, or until the goal is met.
Once the campaign is fully funded, DonorsChoose.org orders the materials and sends them directly to the teacher. The site has helped teachers raise nearly $600 million over the last two decades, with the average project funded at just under $600.
DonorsChoose.org expects to approve proposals for family engagement nights with the hope of turning them into a reality by the end of February. The site will also ask parents and community members to fill out a survey to gauge which programs worked best.
“Those who successfully fill out the information on site right after the activity will get a DonorsChoose.org gift card through which they can play the role of education philanthropist by deciding which project in their school or district should get some more funding,” Education Week reports.