7 Ways Teachers Are Using GoFundMe to Make a Difference

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we wanted to celebrate seven teachers who embody the GoFundMe spirit of helping people and spreading empathy. We’re always amazed and delighted to see the creative, inspiring ways educators use our platform, and we think you’ll be impressed, too.

  1. iPads in the classroom to help ESL students learn Englishgofundme1

Mrs. Ellis teaches English as a Second Language in a low-income school in Denver, Colo. She recognized the huge impact having iPads in her classroom could have on her students’ progress in learning to read and write English.

With no funding directly available, Mrs. Ellis turned to a GoFundMe campaign to equip her classroom with the latest technology.

With the help of 20 community members, Mrs. Ellis hit her goal and purchased the iPads. She says, “The kids were so happy to finally get their classroom iPads and use them every day for new learning! Thank you to all the donors who made this possible!”

  1. Getting kids the books they really want to readgofundme2

Stephanie Wilson’s students are ready to develop a lifetime love of reading. There’s just one hitch: it’s a challenge for these underprivileged kids to access the books they really want to read.

That’s where this Champaign, Ill. teacher is taking charge: Stephanie has started a GoFundMe campaign to buy the books her students can’t wait to read, including Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Geronimo Stilton, and Captain Underpants.

In her campaign, Stephanie says, “As a teacher I spend a lot of my own money for things in my classroom and I need help! I want to provide books that my students want to read so that they will learn to love reading! I can’t express in words how thankful I am to those of you that choose to donate!”

  1. A field trip that will create lifelong memories

gofundme3Stella Kim is a special education science teacher who wants to give her students something they rarely experience: a memorable field trip away from the classroom where they can learn, bond, and enjoy themselves.

When Stella’s Oakland, Calif. school denied her request for the field trip because of lack of funds, she took matters into her own hands and started a GoFundMe campaign.

In just 17 days, 39 donors raised $1,585—exceeding Stella’s goal. Now the field trip is booked, and these students have an exciting field trip to look forward to.

  1. An after-school “Running 4 Change” program for at-risk youth

gofundme4Two years ago, special education teacher Isaias Franco started an after-school running program called “Running 4 Change.”

The program lived up to its name: the collective GPA of Isaias’s students increased by 24%, truancy decreased by 15%, and they successfully ran the Seattle Rock & Roll half marathon.

Now Isaias and his student runners are hoping to race in the San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon on June 5. They’ve raised over $2,000 so far and are hoping to hit their goal of $10,000.

  1. Learning leadership skills on week-long trip to Yosemitegofundme5

Sarah Gzesh wants take her students on an ambitious trip to fulfil her Hayward, Calif. school’s mission: to develop leadership skills in all students as they prepare for college.

On a week-long trip to Yosemite, 40 high school juniors and seniors will learn to give back by volunteering at the national park and increase their appreciation of the natural world—all while taking a break from constantly checking their phones.

In just 10 days, community members stepped up and fully funded this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

  1. First grade trip to the San Diego Zoo Safari Parkgofundme6

Lauren Brill and Jennifer Valenzuela spent a month teaching kindergartners and first graders about rainforest and African savanna animals, so it’s only natural they’d want to take the kids to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park to see some critters up close.

The $15 entrance fee and travel costs, however, are out of reach for many of the students’ families, a large number of which are low-income.

That’s why Lauren and Jennifer turned to GoFundMe. In just a month, they hit their goal, thanks to the generous donations of community members. We hope these lucky kids have a wild time at the zoo!

  1. Stephanie’s Science Librarygofundme7

Stephanie Sample is working hard to make sure her classroom is place where students can be exposed to all the possibilities that learning science can offer.

That’s why she wants her students to have a vibrant science library where they can explore topics at their leisure.

To say her GoFundMe campaign for this library was successful is an understatement: “Woke up this morning pretty emotional seeing the generosity of SO many people towards my GoFundMe! I have to continue to add money and items to my list due to amazing contributions (which is just going to make my classroom even more amazing with more books, plants, animals and lab equipment!) My heart is ready to explode!”


GoFundMe is a proud partner of PTA Teacher Appreciation Week 2016.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week 2016!

2016 TAW GFM_FB_IG Post 1National PTA Teacher Appreciation Week is one of my favorite weeks of the year. It’s a time to celebrate teachers—like myself—for their hard work, dedication and commitment to our children and their success. Every day teachers touch the lives of millions of children and change them for the better. They are real life superheroes.

This year, we have joined forces with GoFundMe to give back to teachers and be a superhero for them. If you start a GoFundMe “Thank A Teacher” fundraising campaign by May 8, GoFundMe will make a matching donation of $100 to eligible campaigns that benefit teachers and students.

But it doesn’t stop there. You can celebrate and #ThankATeacher with some of these ideas:

With your help, this will be the best Teacher Appreciation Week! Enjoy this video with NEA’s President Lily Eskelsen García and myself.

Why Teachers Deserve Our Praise and Our Support

This week has been designated Teacher Appreciation Week, in honor of teachers and the important contributions they make to ensure every child succeeds in school and beyond.

While our public education system has changed a lot over the years, two factors remain—teachers are essential to student growth and achievement, and it is vital that they have our support.

Check out the infographic below on teachers and the importance of family engagement in education and family-school partnerships. Don’t forget to visit PTA.org/ThankATeacher for additional resources.

2015 TAW_Infographic_v6


Heidi May Wilson is the media relations manager at National PTA.

Our Children Magazine Is Now Digital and Free for Everyone

At National PTA, we recognize that one of the most important things we can do as an association is offer families and educators the resources they need to provide for their students’ success. For more than 100 years, Our Children magazine has been one of the best tools National PTA offers. Each issue includes information and in-depth analyses of current education issues, plus plenty of advice on how to run a strong, effective PTA.

Up to now, Our Children was directly available only to PTA leaders. Although many of our leaders regularly make copies of articles and hand them out at meetings, we want to make sure every member can rely on us for timely, relevant information.

To better serve all our members and the public at large, Our Children magazine is now available in a digital edition at PTA.org that is open to everyone free of charge. Not only will the online version duplicate the print issue, but it will also contain bonus content, with e-mail links and live URLs that lead to even more resources. The digital edition is easy to navigate; it allows you to skip through pages through the table of content and to share information with your social media networks with a click of a button.

We’re excited about Our Children’s new digital format, and we invite you to visit PTA.org/pta_magazine.asp to see for yourself!

The latest Our Children issue is available now! The October/November 2012 issue “Fundraisers, Start Your Engines” features multiple articles on fundraising during challenging economic times, as well as information about legal issues surrounding corporate sponsorships. Other articles include information about flu vaccinations, possible federal budget cuts to education, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.

Here’s what we have coming up:

  • December 2012/January 2013: Education in the Age of Technology
  • February/March 2013: What IS Education Reform?
  • April/May 2013: Here’s to Teachers!

Emily Karsnak is a Marketing and Communications Specialist for the National PTA in Alexandria, VA.  Contact Emily at ekarsnak@pta.org.

Founders Day

Here at PTA, we are very proud of our history, filled as it is with such accomplishments as the establishment of universal kindergarten, a juvenile justice system, and the National School Lunch Program. In 1912, we established February 17 as Founders Day to honor our founders, Alice McLellan Birney, Selena Sloan Butler, and Phoebe Apperson Hearst, and draw attention to our legacy of service. It seemed only natural to extend our celebration to the entire school community by establishing PTA Take Your Family to School Week during the week of Founders Day.

Just as we honor our founders, for several years now, students, teachers, and school principals and staff have been welcoming families to school during this special week with family breakfasts and lunches, school assemblies, games, and many other creative activities to honor them. Parents have commented that PTA Take Your Family to School Week not only made them feel welcome to participate at school but also gave them the first real insight into how their children spend their days. For some family members, the event represents the very first time they ever walked through the school doors.

As a longtime PTA member, leader, and now National President, I can’t imagine not “going to school” with my children, meeting their teachers not only during parent-teacher conferences, but also during the day when I can see and appreciate what they do, not only for my children, but for so many children. I always enjoy spending time with other parents and their children during PTA Your Family School Week, and feel this celebration is exactly what our founders might have envisioned. After all, the dream of establishing a national PTA was first imagined when Alice McLellan Birney sat drinking lemonade during a summer retreat in Western New York with some other mothers who were as concerned as she was about the state of education and child welfare in our nation.

I wish all of our PTAs a happy Founders Day and a memorable PTA Take Your Family to School Week. Our sincere thanks to AXA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, for sponsoring this special week. If you are a parent who has never had a chance to participate in this event, what are you waiting for? We’d love to have you join us!

The Man Behind the Cloak and Lens

My dad was a magician…. Well so I thought when I was younger.  I would enter my class with a shiny, silver penny almost everyday.  The kids would be in awe,wondering how I got a silver penny.  Everyone knew pennies were copper of course.  However, my answer was simple. “ It’s magic, my daddy made it.”  My dad was not a magician, but a Middle School Science Teacher  (He actually had to leave a PTA meeting because my mom went into labor with me).

Anyway back to the magic….We  (My brother, sister and I) went to school early with him everyday and I am sure he had to find some ways to entertain us before the school bell rang.  So he would mix some “magic potions” and make  smoke, fire and my beloved silver pennies.  Looking back I truly appreciated my father being apart of my home and school life.  Knowing he could pop up at any moment definitely altered my behavior at school.  I saw him at lunch, recess and after school.  To be honest, I didn’t always want him around but was secretly comforted that he was a door or two away.

I also have a vivid memory of my childhood because of my father.  Because of his passion for photography he made sure to capture every moment on film.  Each of my siblings have at least 3 gigantic photo albums  each, starting from day one that chronicles every play, sport, dance recital, cotillion and graduation we were apart of.  Many people may not know what my father looked like because he was in a lab coat (magic cloak) or behind a lens.

Flash forward to about 20 years later.  My dad now retired but has played the same active role in my nephew’s life.  His life is being captured on film and he sets up little science projects for him to discover.  He even wants to be a magician.

But it’s really not about the magic.  The memories are about the time that was shared.  My dad is the same as any other male figure who wants to be apart of a child’s life.  Children want you to be present and active in their lives.  That is why we are so excited about the Million Hours of Power Movement and what it can mean for so many children.  It means the nurturing of the next great scientist, photographer and yes maybe even magician.

You don’t have to be a male to help us in our plight for male involvement.   Simply start with voting.

Vote for PTA’s Million Hours of Power in the Pepsi Refresh project, then encourage everyone you know to vote for PTA.

– LaWanda Amaker is the Marketing/Communications Manager  for National PTA based in Alexandria VA. Her parents  Lin and Carolyn Amaker live in Orangeburg, SC where they raised her and her two siblings – Maurice and Sherrie

Dad, Does Superman Exist?

Dad, Does Superman Exist?

Last night (September 15th) I had the opportunity to join several hundred government, education and community leaders in the DC area at the Red Carpet Premiere of “Waiting for Superman”, a documentary on the state of education in the United States. I didn’t sleep well afterwards. The message of this film kept running through my mind.

The film talks about several of the challenges that face public education, what should take place to correct these challenges and highlights some successful practices in communities related to educational environments, like charter schools. More importantly, this film shows viewers the challenging stories of five students (and their families) who want to attend a high quality school. It is a blunt, to the point film that calls it like it is; which I like!

Now you are probably asking, “What kept me awake last night?” Easy, the stories of these students and more specifically why their families are placed in such a position that they are pinning their educational hopes on a lottery, not for money but for one seat in a school that will provide a quality education.

I also fought in my mind the question of, “What does a quality teacher look like?” That’s not easy to address because it is a tough question. First, anyone who is willing to serve as a teacher should be respected for their desire to help children succeed; but teaching is a profession and not a job. There is no time clock, the production line is a mind; a child’s future. Second, not everyone is cut out to be a teacher. That’s just a fact of life, so what do we do to address that issue? Pay for performance? Eliminate tenure where it exists? Do teachers unions help or hurt? And more importantly, “When will parents get off the couch and get engaged in the conversation?”

PTA has long been the leader in helping see that teachers and schools have the resources they need to be successful, but even with millions of members there are still millions more who don’t care or don’t believe they have the time to get engaged in this conversation. Why? More specifically, “What are we going to do to get these parents involved in the conversation?”

The rules must change! Our elected officials need to step up and provide the regulatory support, not just the funds, for school districts to attract the best teachers; and deal with those who should explore a job elsewhere. We should pay quality teachers a salary commensurate with quality performance. We should also have a school building that is safe, secure, healthy and technologically equipped to meet the needs of students today. No parent should be placed in a position of passing three public schools (that they see as failing) to enroll their children in a private school. That itself sends a sad message. So what is it going to take? When are our parents, and others, going to get off the couch?

My first suggestion is to see this film when it arrives in your community. If you leave the theater without a lump in your throat or a tear in your eye, you have bigger issues to address. And more importantly, begin frank discussion with all stakeholders about how we provide every child with a quality education.

This film should touch your heart and more especially, make you think. The time has arrived for parents and the broader public to ask these critical questions. The time is now to get off the couch and stop waiting for Superman?

Check to see when “Waiting for Superman” opens in a theater near you.

Yours in PTA!
Chuck Saylors
National PTA President

What Do You Consider As Justice?

What Do You Consider As Justice?

Recently a local prosecutor in Detroit Michigan made news by proposing a law that would have legal repercussions for parents who do not take part in such activities as parent teacher conferences. Now, I’ll admit that her proposal would probably be for those parents who are the worst offenders, but really? In California, a state Senate bill has recently passed a committee vote that lays out a series of punishments for the same lack of action by parents, in simple terms, not attending parent teacher conference and/or allowing their students to go un-supervised.

These two suggested pieces of legislation has our media outlets buzzing and educational leaders wondering where did this all came from? And the question is valid, where is this coming from?

PTA has long been an advocate for parent engagement. Parents, grand-parents, adult care givers should all be active participants in a child’s educational experience. These political recommendations should give us a great opportunity to both discuss options for getting adults engaged and why some elected officials find it necessary to impose legislation for parent involvement with a hammer versus identify more positive solutions.

One example of a positive plan for parent engagement is the Parent Engagement in Education Act, HR5211. This legislation helps schools and school districts develop best practices for parent engagement, it’s that simple!

When I was in school, Dad worked and Mom volunteered at my school. Today, both parents work and in many cases more than one job each. Many parents don’t have the time today that they had in years past, so PTA must work harder and longer to help encourage any caring adult to spend time in their local school.

Although I do not agree with negatitive legislation that seems to force a parent’s involvement, the concern is real. PTA must work to see that our parents, elected officials and the public in general understand that there are more positive solutions to addressing these concerns.

For more parental involvement tips and helpful guides, please visit http://www.pta.org/topic_parent_involvement.asp