The New Mexican rightly has highlighted charities that make supplies available to our children returning to school. Teachers, too, need our support in outfitting their classrooms to optimize learning. These tools and materials may never be in the capital budget and will benefit many school classes going forward.

A nationwide website called Donors Choose ( connects teachers in need of classroom materials with community members who are willing to donate toward their purchase. The charity was started by a teacher 19 years ago, has Charity Navigator’s highest rating and is recommended by the Gates Foundation which, along with some corporations, often matches contributions. Donors Choose is a 501(c)(3) organization, and donations are tax deductible.

Here’s how it works: Teachers register with Donors Choose, request specific supplies and list the vendors and costs. Volunteers at Donors Choose vet the requests and prices, then post on the website the teacher’s explanation of how the classroom will benefit .

The public can search the website according to location, subject matter, grade level and/or type of school. If we find a project we would like to support, we can fund part or all of it. If contributions don’t meet the cost of the project within a specified time period, they are returned to the donor.

If the request gets fully funded, Donors Choose purchases the materials and ships them directly to the school. The teacher and the children write thankyou notes, sometimes accompanied by a photo of the class using the materials.

Based on funding basic robotics kits for one of our middle schools through Donors Choose two years ago, a girl-powered robotics team now competes throughout the state. As of this writing, 34 proposals are posted on behalf of our teachers in Santa Fe. The requests range from right-sized chairs to graphing calculators. The requested materials cost from $92 to $1,905, and donations in any dollar amount are welcomed.

I hope many community members will show our support for our teachers, our schools and, most importantly, our children by contributing through

Jane Coutts lives in Santa Fe.

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