Teacher raises iPad money for struggling students

Donors Choose campaign fueled by community

KANSAS CITY, Mo - Kindergarten teacher Adrianne Williams had already spent more than $1,000 of her own money to outfit and supply her classroom this year when she realized one school supply she couldn’t afford could make a huge difference for a struggling student.

The student was quiet and quickly lost attention in class. He lagged behind his peers in almost every way, until he discovered Ms. Williams' iPad.

“He fell in love with the iPad. I mean he memorized my password, he could get in it by himself,” Williams said in an interview Friday. “He learned his alphabet. He learned the sounds.”

Like many teachers, Williams, 26, was quick to spend her own money to help make up for a budget that couldn’t provide everything the 22 children in her class at Kansas City’s Hartman Elementary School might require. Her classroom had computers, but first one student, then another responded so well to borrowing her iPad, she knew she needed at least one to get the most out of her class.

She started researching the website Donors Choose.

“I've never heard of anything like it,” she said of the site, which allows users to crowd-fund philanthropy in education.  “And I thought it was absolutely wonderful.”

So wonderful, she sought the approval of her principal and the district and then began a fundraising effort of her own: asking for some $900 to buy two iPad minis and hearty warranties for both. 

Soon donations began to dribble in – and not just from her friends, or parents of students – but from members of a community that seemed eager to engage with the school.

“One of the donors wrote me a note and she said, ‘This school is in my neighborhood and I love to be able to give back,’” Williams said. “I had another lady say. ‘I just love Hartman Elementary.’”

On Monday night, Williams was still $400 short of her goal, but hopeful donations would continue to flow in for the sake of the students who mean so much to her. Within 20 minutes of Williams' story airing on 41 Action News, donors helped her reach her goal to fund the purchase of the iPads.

UPDATE, 12 p.m., Feb. 25: 41 Action News viewers contributed the remaining funds necessary within 20 minutes of the story airing last night. We collected more area DonorsChoose projects  for you to consider.

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