It’s no news that Colorado’s schools have faced a funding crunch in the years since the great recession. And the same is true across the nation. To fill the gap, schools have increasingly turned to their teachers to foot the bill for classroom supplies -- in fact, most teachers are now asked to do so. As this practice has become more common, so too has another: crowdfunding for that money.
In its first ever report measuring this phenomenon, crowdfunding giant GoFundMe found that 91 percent of teachers across the country used their own money to pay for school supplies last year.
In Colorado, K-12 teachers raised $855,000 for their classrooms on GoFundMe last year. That’s considerably more than our neighbors; only New Mexico comes close, having raised $242,000.
Last year, 1,745 crowdfunding campaigns in Colorado received 14,700 donations. GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon says usually where there’s more crowdfunding, there’s more need.
On what the popularity of crowdfunding says about Colorado.
Solomon: I think GoFundMe campaigns follow the need, so when people need help, we see these things taking off. So there may be some correlation between school funding in Colorado versus other states. I don’t have much data on that, but the trend suggests that that might be the case.
On the different types of crowdfunding campaigns in Colorado.
Solomon: Oftentimes people think of supplies only as paper and pencils and crayons and markers and things like that. But we’ve seen teachers raise money for computer equipment, or smart white boards where you can write it, then print things out. We’ve seen teachers who have recognized that their students in lower socioeconomic backgrounds don’t have bicycles, and we had a teacher raise funds to build a bicycle for every student in the classroom -- so it runs the gamut of everything that helps educate the whole child.
On what this means for the future of school funding.
Solomon: I have three kids, a 17-year-old, a 13-year-old and a ten-year-old, and at every school that they’ve been a part of, teachers buy their own supplies. We’ve seen it in action in public schools across the country, we’ve seen it everywhere. Almost 100 percent of teachers are spending money out of their own pockets to fund their classrooms. So when GoFundMe became part of the social fabric, part of the zeitgeist, it just made sense that we saw more and more teachers using GoFundMe to provide that solution to that problem of not having the proper supplies in a classroom.