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Nevada Grant Program Gives $10M for Teacher Supplies

The DonorsChoose Grant Program, a popular crowdfunding platform, allows teachers to list what they want for their classrooms and will fulfill up to $500 for each wish list upon approval from the state. The funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Nevada educators who regularly reach into their own wallets to stock their classrooms can soon get relief through a $10 million state program to boost individual teacher supply budgets.

The just-launched DonorsChoose Grant Program follows a streamlined process: Teachers log in to the popular crowdfunding platform DonorsChoose, list what they want for their classrooms, and the platform leverages its existing relationships with vendors to fulfill their wish lists up to $500 each upon state Department of Education approval.

The state and DonorsChoose collaborated on a nearly identical supply grant program in 2021 that supported more than 11,000 educators using federal pandemic relief dollars. This time around, the state is covering the bill.

Teachers may want engaging items that can enrich a lesson, like a model of a human skeleton, or basics like pencils and copy paper.

"They have the choice," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert said when announcing the rollout Tuesday at Piggott Academy of International Studies, a magnet elementary school in Summerlin where teachers plan to take advantage of the funds. "They are empowered. They're the ones that know best what students need."

Teachers don't need to front their purchases out of pocket and get reimbursed later. Eligible projects are anticipated to be funded within one week of posting, and supplies will be shipped directly to schools. DonorsChoose will ensure any requests for instructional materials align with the Nevada Academic Content Standards.

State Sen. Marilyn Dondero Loop, D- Las Vegas, a former teacher, successfully carried the bill this legislative session for the latest version. Senate Bill 339 passed with near-unanimous support, part of a historic, broad investment in public education.

Full-time equivalent K-12 public school teachers throughout Nevada are eligible to participate.

"The DonorsChoose Grant Program exemplifies Nevada's commitment to investing in our education system and empowering our dedicated educators," Gov. Joe Lombardo said in a statement. "We recognize that well-equipped classrooms are essential for student achievement, and this program aligns perfectly with our vision for a brighter educational future in the Silver State."

Piggott fifth grade teacher Beth Barber bought a model of a skeleton in the 2021 round. Her students love it for learning the names of their bones.

As a veteran teacher of more than 20 years, Barber says she has a stockpile of supplies that she knows students can't always bring in themselves. A new teacher, she estimated, might spend $1,000 to start up their classroom.

Will another $500 go far?

"It never really goes far enough, but it's appreciated," she said.

Principal David Hudzick said he could see a grant bringing more Lego bricks, Vex Go robot kits, or storage containers into the science and technology classroom. It's a cheerfully busy space that is outfitted with whiteboard-topped tables and wobbly stools instead of rigid chairs, which are better for getting young ones' wiggles out.

Teachers on the school's second-grade team will strategically spend their money, each requesting items to share with everybody.

Maile Rodrigues, who has taught second grade in the same room for 22 years, was thinking of picking up science materials. Or books. Students are drawn to books, she said.

"We want to put as many books as we can in the children's hands," she said.

The funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

(c)2023 the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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