In Which I Want Your Money: Donors Choose Challenge 2008

I’ve seen the geoblogosphere periodically erupt in harrumphing about the way geology is treated (and by “treated” we usually mean “ignored”) in K-12 education. Well, now’s our chance to fix that. Budget cuts and the No Child Left Behind Act mean that science is getting squeezed out of elementary school classrooms. Teachers know that their students love science, and are determined to keep them engaged, but they don’t have the resources they need.

That’s where you come in.

Donors Choose is a nonprofit organization designed to help you help schools tackle the projects you think are important. They gather proposals from public school teachers, and handle all the money stuff; you pick out the proposals that seem most compelling, and provide students with desperately-needed educational resources.

I’ve highlighted several projects that will bring low-tech hands-on Earth science to kids across the country: rock and mineral kits, stream tables, and basic lab supplies like notebooks and safety goggles.

All of the projects are at “high poverty” schools – at least 40% of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, meaning that their families earn 130% or less of the federal poverty line. And by “federal poverty line” I mean “supporting a family of 4 on a grad student’s salary”. These are not classrooms where parents will chip in to buy the latest educational doohickeys; these are classrooms where parents can barely afford pencils.

Since my partner’s grad student salary only supports two people right now, and not four, I figure we can spare ten bucks. If we can spare ten bucks, so can you – and if everyone who reads this blog throws $10 into the pot, we can bring several hundred kids to the Dark Side the joys of geology.

Seed Media Group, the ScienceBorg corporate mothership, has put up matching money for the past two years’ challenges. I don’t have details about matching funds for this year’s challenge, but I am assuming that some will be forthcoming. Moreover, a few projects on my challenge slate have also been sponsored with matching funds from other charitable foundations. Pick one of these, and your $10 will turn into $30! That’s a much better deal than the $5 special at your local greasy noodle emporium; pack sandwiches for the rest of the week, and give your lunch money to support public schools.

I’ll be writing much more in the coming month about the individual projects you should support, the glory that will accrue to the geoblogosphere as we create a nation of budding young geoscientists, and the fabulous prizes you can win by donating (save your donation thank-you email!). For now, though, please take a few moments to browse through some of the projects that need funding. Which do you like? Are there any listed by Donors Choose that you think I should include in the challenge?


  1. Silver Fox wrote:

    Maria, I think this is a great idea – I’m not sure how the money gets matched, however. Is there supposed to be a code to enter? Or is it just automatic because it’s on a list you selected?

  2. Maria Brumm wrote:

    That’s a good question. Last year, donations far exceeded the matching funds, and I’m not sure how the money was applied.

    There’s definitely no code to enter, though.

  3. Lab Lemming wrote:

    Can you try to find out, please? Knowing the matching formula is important for determining how to redistribute our wealth for maximum effect.

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