Thursday, 4 July 2013

TPOH - A Giving Project

Ms. Parish teaches computers in the Bronx, in a newer inner-city school, in an impoverished area.

I don't really know who Ms. Parish is. I have never been to the Bronx, or any other American inner city for that matter. Well, I did spend some time in De Kalb County in Georgia, but I don't know if that really counts. I went to pretty good schools up here in Canada, and I managed to find my way into college and then on to the career field with only a few minor hiccoughs.

I imagine the kids in Ms Parish's class are mostly the same as I was back in grade 10. Mostly interested in girls (or boys) and sports, sitting through class because they have to, but with a few 'cool' teachers who hold their interest in a subject or two. Maybe there are a few keeners who really excel, and likely a few slow ones who struggle. I think Ms Parish might see some differences though.

I bet that teaching kids in the Bronx is a lot more challenging. I am betting that poverty and 'life experiences' make it a struggle to just stay in school in Ms Parish's class. I bet that more kids end up pregnant, or stoned, or beat up, or hungry in a given semester, and I bet the school itself has some pretty big crises to handle beyond funding Ms Parish's class with spare computers.

Yeah, that was the 'funding' word. Ms Parish can't get it from the board, and yet she needs supplies. Actually she needs computers so she can teach computer ed. In the Bronx. In America. Home of Apple and Microsoft and Google.

No this isn't the third world we're talking about here. This could as easily be up north in Nunavut where homeless native families are going without heat and bread, or in Toronto where recent immigrants are confronted with a language and culture barrier making them eligible for only the most infantile positions. The difference is that Ms Parish doesn't have a family that will suffer because of poverty in her neighbourhood, she has a class of 30 kids. And she has another one next year, and the next year, and the next year. allows individuals and corporations to consider different classroom needs across the USA and choose one to help out. Maybe soon they will include Canadian institutions as well, but for now, this charity is calling out to help with classroom poverty close to home, in the States. I like that.

For one thing, if we give the kids tools to succeed, it means we might lift them out of the cycle they are trapped in. For another, a classroom gift will circulate through years of use, potentially touching hundreds of kids. A teacher who enters in to a program like this isn't in it for money or gain, they are in it because they actually care and are trying to improve the student's experience. Finally, we all see payback if these kids are enabled to go on to careers, breaking generational poverty, and brining innovation and new ideas to the workforce.

Unlike other charities that take a hidden percent of your giving, this organisation is very upfront about how much of the money received actually goes to the school, and dictates what supplies a donation will purchase. You could choose to help a kindergarten teacher get markers or a middle school class buy a microscope. You know exactly what is being bought, by whom, and for how much. In Ms Parish's case, about 81% of the money raised goes directly to buying computers, with the remainder to fees (creditcard and paypal fees eat up 2%), a donation back to Donors Choose (at the teacher's discretion), and $30 in administrative costs (ie. mailing thankyou notes and cards).

Lets help Mrs Parish out. Her Grade 10 class is staring down life and career choices, and without computers to use at home, its kind of hard to build skills, research careers, or even look into what life has to offer beyond the streets of their neighbourhood. When I was in school Bill Gates donated computers to our library. Here's a chance to pay it forward. Mrs Parish wants to buy her computers before the end of the summer. Lets aim to get them there.

If enough of us hit the donate button and send $10 her way, Mrs Parish should see those computers in a heartbeat - don'tcha think? If Ms Parish's project doesn't appeal to you, browse the site, there are literally thousands of other teachers calling out for help on their projects. Choose one. Send them a few dollars. I'd love to hear your stories here if you do. Just hit the comment button below.

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