While we highly endorse the practice of showing love to individual teachers over the holidays with gifts and notes of appreciation, if you're feeling especially charitable this season, data from the nonprofit organization DonorsChoose.org shows that hundreds of thousands of students around the country are in need of basic educational supplies, such as books, office products, electronics and classroom games.
DonorsChoose is an online charity where teachers can request funding for student supplies from individuals connected with the site. The nonprofit, which has reached over 13 million students since its inception in 2000, recently provided The Huffington Post with data about what teachers are requesting for their classrooms and where these schools are located. This is what the data showed:
1. Both Affluent And Low-Income Schools Are In Need Of Supplies
Between October 2013 and October 2014, teachers requested help funding the costs of over 300,000 pieces of supplies. However, it wasn't just teachers from the poorest schools asking for help.
According to data from DonorsChoose -- which was calculated by the company Market Data Retrieval -- 41 percent of projects posted on the site this past year came from teachers who work in the "highest poverty" schools, while about 4 percent of projects came from teachers who work at "low poverty" schools. About 36 percent of schools nationwide are classified as highest poverty based on the percentage of their student population who qualify for free or reduced price lunch, while 5 percent of schools are considered low poverty. Based on this data, that makes the numbers of affluent and low-income schools requesting funding help roughly proportional.
The graphs below display this phenomenon:
2. Schools Need Books, Books and More Books
According to DonorsChoose data, there is a severe shortage of books in schools.
In all types of schools, the item teachers most requested funding for between October 2013 and October 2014 was books. Teachers in the poorest schools requested help funding the purchase of over 120,000 books alone.
Behind books, teachers most requested help funding toys and games.
"About half of the projects on our site are for really essential materials and experiences that you can't quite believe students don’t have," Charles Best, CEO and founder of DonorsChoose, told The Huffington Post.
The graphs below compare the resources for which teachers requested funding in the highest poverty schools and low poverty schools:
3. Schools Need Help All Over The Country
The map below shows which schools have posted on DonorsChoose since the site's inception. Clearly, a need for more resources is not limited to schools in specific areas of the country.
"The problem we’re trying to tackle is people are only aware of these classroom needs in an abstract, statistical sense, and if you’re only aware of a problem intellectually and statistically, you’re probably not thinking about that problem when you go into the voting booth and you’re probably not that fired up about the problem," Best told HuffPost.
He continued, "We think that the experience one has on our site … it’s often their first really vivid encounter with a classroom on the other side of the tracks. The faces that they associate with this experience, the personal relationship they feel with the classroom when they get the photos and thank-you letters ... drives home educational inequity I think far more effectively and powerfully than I think a white paper would from a think tank."
See how you can help provide subject-based classroom materials, support field trips and fund education projects through DonorsChoose.