September 10, 2020 – Morristown, NJ.
The New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, a non-profit organization created to address the health and economic crisis in New Jersey caused by the coronavirus pandemic, is providing $250,000 in matching grants to teacher projects in underprivileged school districts in New Jersey through DonorsChoose, an online platform that gives teachers an opportunity to raise funds for their classroom.
“Teachers know best what their students need to continue learning during this unprecedented time”, said First Lady Tammy Murphy, the founding chair of the NJPRF. “We are thrilled to help support teachers at schools with 90 percent or more students receiving free or reduced lunch thus enabling our most vulnerable students to have access to the best educational materials possilbe.”
“We are happy to provide matching grants to give teachers the resources they need to connect with and continue teaching their students,” said the NJPRF CEO Josh Weinreich.
The matching grant is part of an overall effort by the NJPRF to help schools in New Jersey continue to educate students during the pandemic. The fund recently donated 1,200 wi-fi hotspots to the Trenton school district and is working to identify opportunities to close the digital divide in other school districts.
The projects funded through DonorsChoose range in cost from as little as $154 for a gift card to as much as $4,700 for an Apple Macbook Pro. Many of the teachers’ proposals are for technology to help students to learn remotely, though teachers are also asking for supplies that can be used in the classroom. Of the state’s 607 school districts, more than half are hybrid and 172 districts will start the year with fully remote learning.
Ms. Nero, who teaches special education at Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden, requested a $1,600 Dell Laptop to help her work remotely through Zoom breakout room lessons, Google Meets, and individualized lessons with her 80 students.
“As Covid-19 restrictions closed our classrooms, I would be able to use these devices to have some sort of normal ‘face-to-face interactions’,” Ms. Nero said.
Ms. Amil, who teaches elementary school at Paterson’s School 18, is seeking $100 to purchase a gift certificate for the Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) online store.
“This year my class is starting the school year with fully remote online learning,” Ms. Amil wrote. “I am very excited to accept this new challenge and would appreciate some amazing digital resources available from the TPT store to help me get started!”
Ms. Arrington, who teaches at Dr Martin Luther King Junior Elementary School in Trenton, is hoping for $290 to purchase a printer, ink, gel pens and a white board eraser that she can use on a whiteboard easel she previously purchased.
“Our students are awesome,” Ms. Arrington said. “They deal with numerous personal and environmental obstacles and still achieve. Dealing with this COVID pandemic is just another obstacle they are going to successfully navigate. But, it does require some extra resources in order to recreate a remote classroom setting.”
Laura Overdeck, the founder and president of Bedtime Math and a member of the NJPRF board, said the NJPRF grant helps ensure that teachers have the tools they need to educate students during the pandemic.
“The diversity of the projects being funded really illustrates the upside of working with DonorsChoose to support our teachers, rather than trying to find a one-size-fits-all solution for classrooms across the state,” Overdeck said.
For all the teachers’ projects eligible for the NJPRF matching grant on Donors Choose, click here.