Education 101: How to help!

We get a lot of questions from people wondering how they can help schools and classrooms. If you aren’t already an educator, how can you as a concerned citizen make a difference?

The good news is there are a variety of ways to make an impact, some that involve a monetary donation, and some that involve a donation of your time (from a few minutes to a few hours).

I’ll list a few here, and then I’m excited to hear from you about how you are helping schools. (Or, if you are a teacher or educator, how can we help you?)

  1. Vote. This is SUCH a powerful one. Its free, its your right and duty, and it is the single most effective way to encourage change (at least in my opinion). Vote, make sure your friends vote, encourage people who aren’t your friends to vote, and make sure you vote for candidates who support investing in education.
  2. Speak out! Attend school board meetings (yes, even if you don’t have a child in school), city council meetings, and if you are near your state’s capitol, attend Education Committee hearings (these are open to the public). Make it known that you care about education and believe it should be a national priority. Call your state legislators and your representatives in the US Congress. They need to hear that their constituents care about education.
  3. Donate. In addition to donating to candidates that support education, and to national organizations that are doing great work, you can also donate directly to teachers to help fund their classrooms. Donors Choose is a great non-profit that lets teachers post exactly what items they need for their classroom, and then you purchase what they need and it gets sent directly to that teacher.
  4. Volunteer. There are a number of different volunteer organizations that will put you in schools working directly with students (listed below). If you are a parent, join your PTO and find out where you are needed. You can make copies, monitor lunch or recess, tutor after school, or help your school raise money with a fundraiser. Specific national education-related volunteer organizations are:
    1. Big Brothers/Big Sisters
    2. Boys and Girls Club
    3. Junior Achievement
    4. CASA, Inc (Court Appointed Special Advocates)
    5. Youth Villages

You can also search for local organizations to volunteer with. Your local public library may have after-school tutoring programs, and may be a good place to start. They’ll likely be able to suggest other organizations to you that might fit your strengths.

Where have you volunteered? What was your experience? If you work in education, what did we miss? Where is help most needed?



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