Ninety-four percent of teachers have used their own money to buy school supplies for their classrooms, according to a survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics last May. To offset personal costs, many teachers turn to crowdfunding sites to help create an engaging learning environment for their students.
DonorsChoose is fulfilling projects nationwide
DonorsChoose is a nonprofit crowdfunding site in the U.S. where 83% of schools have had at least one teacher create a classroom project request. At Amazon Business, we’re proud to serve as a source of supplies on DonorsChoose, allowing educators to browse hundreds of millions of products to find all the essentials they need.
DonorsChoose fulfills more than 250,000 projects every school year, reaching approximately 23 million K-12 students across the nation. More than half of these projects include items fulfilled by Amazon Business each year; everything from new robotics kits and the latest tablets, to more fundamental items like paper and art supplies.
Amazon Business items that teachers request most
While every classroom is unique, basic supplies such as wooden pencils, glue sticks and colored pencils continue to be among the most-requested items on DonorsChoose from Amazon Business. Teachers are also requesting items like the Kindle Fire, as well as more unique products and accessible devices like foldable, on-ear headphones that can make a huge difference in the classroom experience as well.
There’s a range of DonorsChoose projects fulfilled by Amazon Business and a growing number of projects go outside of curriculum materials, prompting DonorsChoose to create a new category: Warmth, Care and Hunger. It was created to meet students’ most basic personal needs and allow them to fully focus in the classroom. For example, one DonorsChoose project that Amazon Business helped fulfill provided clean socks and underwear to kids in their class, along with other wellness products.
Marrying compliance with crowdfunding
Just like all public sector organizations, aligning with internal purchasing policies and maintaining compliance with the same is critical, and K-12 schools are no exception. Classroom crowdfunding happening on an individual level can be optimized for school district priorities. As the largest crowdfunding site dedicated to public schools, DonorsChoose meets a high standard of transparency, accountability and security. From custom reporting to populating IT and technology guidelines, DonorsChoose ensures districts can partner with their educators in using Amazon Business.
That’s why, for example, DonorsChoose now offers district administrators the chance to share their technology guidelines, so that when teachers create a request for computers or tablets, DonorsChoose can remind teachers of their district's compatibility requirements. Similarly, since the materials provided by DonorsChoose become school property, DonorsChoose provides district leaders with full reporting of the resources delivered to their schools, technology or otherwise. Crowdfunding sites can continue to be an option for school districts if they have the right purchasing controls in place and Amazon Business offers tools that help school districts achieve that compliance.
Opening the door to more options
Outside of crowdfunding, as schools increasingly bring their procurement online, they can work with stores that have purchasing compliance tools for their district. With Amazon Business, educators and administrators have full control over the classroom procurement process. Our shopping experience is familiar and gives teachers access to hundreds of millions of products for their students and classrooms.
On the back end, purchasing controls can be made that require review and approvals before teachers place an order in order to maintain compliance. Additionally, Amazon Business provides schools with real-time data on every purchase, the ability to shop tax-free if eligible, pay with a purchase order and also set preferred or restricted product purchases.
Classroom purchasing is evolving and resources like DonorsChoose and Amazon Business help ensure students aren’t missing out on meaningful education opportunities due to a lack of supplies or resources. I’d urge educators to start having conversations with their school districts about how to most effectively leverage DonorsChoose. After all, the students best prepared to fill roles in the future workforce will be those who experience meaningful opportunities throughout their K-12 years.
Daniel Smith is the Global Leader of Education at Amazon Business, overseeing all aspects of education: strategy, product development, engineering and customers.
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