Supporting Rural Students by Equipping Teachers with the Resources They Need
08 September 2021

“Technology is such an important part of our 21st century learning community,” says Mr. Bailey, a third through fifth grade teacher in East Syracuse, New York. “Although we are moving into another chapter in distance learning, the abilities that have been created by these additional technological resources will continue to be used and be essential.”

Since early 2020, teachers around the United States have been making the best of a bad situation, finding new opportunities for their students to learn and grow even in the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Teachers have clearer insights than anyone else into what can elevate students’ learning experience in their classrooms—remote or physical—and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) supported DonorsChoose in helping rural public school teachers access new resources like those used by Mr. Bailey’s students.

A grant from SNF amplified support for these teachers by matching individual donations made through the DonorsChoose giving platform that reached schools in rural communities across 49 states. The campaign funded 535 classroom projects at 469 schools, 63% of which have a majority of students from low-income households.

These projects introduced moments of joy into an academic year filled with restrictions. Thanks to their teachers, students in Monroe, Washington, were able to enjoy a Virtual Field Day. “Now students will be able to create amazing new memories to bring this crazy year to a close,” said Mrs. Richards, a third through fifth grade teacher.

Teachers doing one of society’s most important jobs are far too often left without the resources they need to create the best possible learning environment for students, and this is the second DonorsChoose campaign SNF has supported during the Foundation’s $100 million global COVID-19 relief initiative.

More broadly, helping ensure that children—especially those who often face structural barriers to access like girls and kids in low-income communities—could continue to access education and mentorship through the pandemic was a key focus of the grants in the COVID-19 relief initiative, from the Malala Fund in India and Pakistan to Advocates for Children of New York.

Though the classroom projects funded arose during the pandemic, many of them will continue to benefit students into the future. “This is a project,” said Mrs. Freeman, a Pre-K through second grade art teacher in Standish, Michigan, who works with 720 students, “that I will be able to do with each group year after year.”