Over the past six months, about 460 teachers in more than 260 public schools in our region have been able to enrich the education of more than 65,000 students with classroom learning experiences in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by taking advantage of a special matching grant program we created in partnership with the DonorsChoose.org crowdfunding platform.
Through DonorsChoose.org, teachers post a description of their projects and solicit donations to fund them. Under our matching program, teachers who work in schools located in the San Diego and southern Orange County region are eligible to receive a one-to-one match for every dollar they raise for their STEM project of up to $1,000. For teachers whose schools are located in disadvantaged communities, as defined by the state’s CalEnviroScreen as being most vulnerable to environmental pollution, we offer a $2 match for every $1 raised by teachers, making public contributions even more impactful.
To date, we have funded 752 projects.
This is the second year that SDG&E is offering the matching grant program. On Pi Day this year, we pledged a $314,159 match to support STEM education – an amount reflecting the infinite number you get when you divide the circumference of a circle by its diameter. Currently, approximately $87,000 is still available in matching funds.
Light Up the Tank!
One of the teachers who took advantage of our DonorsChoose matching grant program is Marisa Gorczynski of San Juan Hills High School in San Juan Capistrano, Orange County. She needed support for a STEM project called “Light Up the Tank” for her 9-12th graders. Students designed and built individual aquariums in their classrooms. For supplies to help keep the project going - fish food and light timers - for the aquariums, she turned to DonorsChoose. With the SDG&E match, Gorczynski purchased the necessary materials for her students to keep learning about how marine biology and engineering go hand-in-hand. Proper lighting is key to keeping the fish healthy and the aquarium plants thriving, not to mention to allow the students to see the aquatic environment clearly.
“I am so thankful for everyone who has supported my classroom project and for the SDG&E match on DonorsChoose that got us to our goal much sooner and in time for the school year,” she said. “I come to work every day committed to providing my students with a relevant science curriculum that develops lifelong skills, and it is inspiring to know that so many others support that too.”
Britany Shapiro of Casa de Oro Elementary in Spring Valley who teaches 5th grade is another beneficiary of our matching grant program. She wanted a hands-on learning experience on molecules for her students and needed funding to buy molecule kits to help make the chemistry learning experience more exciting and interactive. The DonorsChoose program made it possible.
“My students were so happy to know that there are people out there who don't even know them but who care that much about them to provide them with this learning experience,” Shapiro said. She found that the kits promoted togetherness and helped students create a team mentality to think outside the box.
Last year, we helped 208 teachers at 135 schools and reached nearly 20,000 students through 286 STEM projects. Sixty-four percent of these schools were in disadvantaged communities. Our goal this year is to support 500 teachers at 300 local schools, through 600 STEM projects that could reach 40,000 students. Even though we still have about $87,000 left, we have surpassed the goal of the number of students reached and the number of projects funded.
If you are a STEM teacher in San Diego County or Southern Orange County or if you know any STEM teachers, encourage them to submit their project applications here.