OKC classrooms see extra resources through foundation donations

Ashley Desilva, a second-grade teacher at Shidler Elementary. (Ben Felder)

Ashley Desilva, a second-grade teacher at Shidler Elementary. (Ben Felder)

A donation and challenge over the weekend by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with a matching donation from a local foundation, paid for nearly $30,000 in classroom resources for teachers across the Oklahoma City Public School district.

“Teachers do this incredible job with our kids in the classroom,” Melinda Gates said in an interview with Katie Couric last week. “And yet so often they spend … over $400 of their own money on classroom supplies, technology and books.”

Melinda announced that her foundation would match any donations over the weekend to DonorsChoose, a website that allows groups and individuals to make direct donations to classroom projects. That challenge was answered Sunday by the McLaughlin Family Foundation.

“We’ve been aware of a gap in needs for resource in the classroom within our schools for awhile,” Chrissy McLaughlin said. “Providing classroom resources is a logical solution to trying to help students achieve their potential … this was a good opportunity with the Gate Foundation match.”

The $15,000 donation from the McLaughlin Family Foundation, and a $15,000 match from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, helped pay for dozens of local projects, including physical education equipment at Northwest Classen High School, iPads at Cesar Chavez Elementary and classroom organization materials at Kaiser Elementary.

“At least twice a month I am buying things for the classroom,” said Ashley Desilva, a second-grade teacher at Shidler Elementary. “I try to find as many resources [at the school] that I can, but sometimes you have to buy stuff yourself.”

Desilva was looking for a way to help her class learn to write and heard an idea to use Magna Doodles, which can be easier to use and more fun for her young students. Desilva put her wish on DonorsChoose for $600 to purchase 25 Magna Doodles and her project was fully funded over the weekend.

“I was very surprised today,” Desilva said about learning her project, along with all the others, had been fully funded. “This will be a big help in the classroom.”

Ben Felder

Ben is a news reporter covering local politics, City Hall and education in urban Oklahoma City. He lives in OKC with his wife, Lori, and son, Satchel. Ben holds a masters in new media journalism from Full Sail University and is an OKC transplant from Kansas City, Mo. Twitter: @benfelder_okg

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