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eSchoolNews: Digital Wish Makes School Fundraising Easier
Posted by John Sullivan at 02:42:52 PM Thu 06/30/2011

Jenna Zwang, assistant editor for eSchoolNews, recently interviewed Heather Chirtea, Digital Wish's executive director and founder, to write this article on how Digital Wish "makes school fundraising easier."

Check out the full article at: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2011/06/22/digital-wish-makes-school-fundraising-easier/

Websites that let teachers post their classroom “wish lists” for donors to fulfill have been around for more than a decade, but now one of those sites—Digital Wish—has added a new fundraising feature that could help schools raise support from their local communities.

The fundraising feature allows for teachers and their supporters, such as administrators and Parent-Teacher Associations, to establish their own fund drives for their educational needs. Through Digital Wish, users can publish their event on social media websites and print customized fliers.

Read more at: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2011/06/22/digital-wish-makes-school-fundraising-easier/

EdTech Magazine: Report Card- Wish Fulfillment
Posted by John Sullivan at 03:57:08 PM Mon 11/01/2010

Originally published in EdTech Magazine on 11/1/10

"Buy one, get one free" is a great deal. But for teachers in cash-strapped schools around the country, getting two Flip Video camcorders at no cost sounds too good to be true. With Digital Wish, it isn't.

Executive Director Heather Chirtea founded Digital Wish in 2007 "to solve technology shortfalls in classrooms," she says, and to better prepare students for tomorrow's workforce. The nonprofit allows teachers to register for document and digital cameras, camcorders, projectors, interactive whiteboards, mobile labs and other tools they'd like to have in their classrooms but can't afford.

To read more, click here.

Digital Wish Featured in Time Magazine- "What Makes a School Great"
Posted by John Sullivan at 05:09:21 PM Wed 09/15/2010

Originally published in Time Magazine on 9/8/2010

"Digital Wish is a registry for teachers to request tech products (cameras, computers, projectors) for their classrooms.  Donors contribute funds to fulfill requests, with additional support from partnered technology companies.  www.digitalwish.com"

For abridged online story, click here.

Mesa View Middle School students text for technology grant
Posted by John Sullivan at 03:37:08 PM Fri 09/10/2010

Originally published by The Daily Times on 9/9/2010
Mesa View Middle School students text for technology grant
By Ryan Boetel

FARMINGTON— At first, the students in Jason McKinney's science classes at Mesa 
View Middle School thought their teacher was trying to trick them.
He was telling them to pull out their cell phones and text.
That sort of behavior can get students in deep trouble.
"We get a write-up and we get detention for two weeks," said Makayla Begaye, a 11-year-old sixth grader.
But it isn't a trick. McKinney is asking all his students, and everyone else, to text 102499 to 73774 once a day.

To read more, click here.

Making the Case for Funding
Posted by John Sullivan at 12:31:17 PM Fri 09/03/2010

Published in September 2010 issue of the AALF.org newsletter

In the United States, there are over 125,000 K-12 schools across 50 states. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 41 of those states are already experiencing mid-year budgetary shortfalls in 2010, and the shortfalls are projected to worsen in 2011. Public K-12 schools receive a large portion of their funding from state taxes, and are therefore forced to make budget cuts. As a result technology budgets, which are unfortunately often viewed as expendable, retract. So in a recessionary environment of declining funding, how do you convince the funders that technology is important?  Here you will find a list of five compelling reasons for interested parties to support your technology initiative. Afterwhich you will find specific tips on how to identify new funding streams.

1) Change the Argument

In order to secure funding for technology, you are going to need to wage a compelling argument that explains why technology is important in schools. Test scores are not the answer! There is very little valid research that actually draws a connection between technology usage and increasing test scores. That's the government's battle, not yours. You will get much further by crafting a connection between your technology initiative to the future economic development of the workforce, and ultimately the economic health of the state.

2) It's an economic question

Companies and colleges are spending an estimated $17 billion per year to train recent graduates in the basic skills they should have gained in school. Students need technological competence to become a skilled and competitive workforce. New entrepreneurs can work from anywhere, start businesses, and bring new growth opportunities to rural markets.

3) It's a question of globalization

According to Deloitte LLP, only 22% of high school students feel schools have done an "excellent" job of preparing them for college. In order to remain competitive in global markets, our school systems must prepare our students with the skills they need to compete globally.

4) It's a moral question

In a recent survey, 75% of educators classified themselves as "often in need" or "desperate for" technology resources. A well-documented achievement gap exists in our school systems nationwide. Schools need access to technology so that students can develop the skills they need to thrive. It's a question of relevance.85% of teens ages 12-17 engage in some form of electronic personal communication, including text messaging, emailing, or online social networking. Relevant technology tools will inspire our students to learn and engage in education.

5) Core Issues

Every year, as technology funding erodes, our teachers become progressively less able to prepare students for future employment in the rapidly expanding global economy. The Journal of Industrial Technologyreports that over the past 2 decades, enrollment in technical degrees has decreased by as much as 11%, while the demand for technical workers has risen by 29%. Businesses are sounding the alarm. Without adequate exposure to technology in schools, it becomes increasingly difficult to find and hire technologically qualified graduates from the local economy. It's a silent and cumulative crisis that now threatens to undermine our children's future.

It is important to note that a dramatic increase in technology expenditures requires identifying new funding streams, and/or redirecting old ones. Here are some specific tips and ideas on how to craft your funding argument.

Power of Stories

If you are trying to secure funding for technology, be sure to tell lots of stories, even if they just outlines small successes. It is much easier for a decision maker to fund a "human interest" story than it is to fund a piece of equipment. This works incredible well with politicians. If you ever get the opportunity to appeal to the legislature, don't do the presentation yourself! Rather, invite a few students to speak on your behalf. Let the students explain why they need technological skills in order to prepare for college and get a job. Remember, you are not trying to put technology in schools, rather you are preparing students for their future workforce in the global economy. You are fighting for America's future.

Craft an Economic Development Argument

If graduates from the local school system are properly prepared with adequate technology skills, then the 9/10 businesses that need savvy workers will be able to hire locally, and sustain or grow their operations. Graduates who find local jobs will stay in local communities, raise families, buy houses, contribute to the tax base, and start new local businesses. A technologically rounded education has a downstream effect of promoting the economic development and future growth of an entire community. It sparks systemic change.

Craft a Financial Argument

For rural states, consider the cost to the state for every student that graduates from high school, then leaves the state to attend college and doesn't return. For each student that staysin the local area, they will get a job, raise a family, buy a house, and contribute to the local tax base (which in most states contributes directly to education funding). If your state suffers from the "Brain Drain" of declining population, then based on average salary rates in your state, you can calculate an annual financial gain to the tax base, and to the local economy, for each student that decides to "stay local". Every 1% of students who stay, contributes $XX.XX to tax base each year, and contributes $XXXX to the local economy annually. Over the lifetime, a single family can bring an additional $XXX to your state. Hard numbers are what politicians need, to justify re-allocation of funding.

If we don't, then...

Consider what's going to happen to your school and town if you don't modernize schools with technology. Brainstorm the worst-case scenario, then share the bullet points with your funders. It will look something like this: "...students aren't savvy, local businesses can't hire, those that are savvy will leave and never return..."

What's the Percent of Total Spending?

Calculate the total education budget in your funding region (school, district, or state), then consider what percentage of that budget would be necessary to put 1-to-1 computing into schools. It's a sure bet that you'll be able to craft a true and compelling statement such as, "Less than one half of 1% of the total education budget will put a computer on the desk of every single middle and high school student in the state." You will quickly realize how small that percentage really is.

Use Training Budgets for Hardware

Many schools have a surplus of training money, and a deficit of hardware funding. Consider how you write your purchase orders. Could you work with a hardware vendor that also provides professional development? If so, then quote your purchase orders as, "Training with free hardware" and your technology purchases might suddenly qualify for training budgets. Qualifications will be different for each funding source, so see if this is allowable.

Develop the Notion of "Property"

The effective life of a computer is approximately 4 years in a school. Consider also that the effective career of a student through your school is probably similar. Turn over the computer's "Pink slip" as a bonus to the student at graduation. It not only saves the cost of disposal, but the students will take much better care of the equipment if they know it's "theirs when they graduate". It's an added motivation to stay in school, at a time when the drop-out rate is so dramatically high. The #1 most common benefit cited by schools who deploy 1:1 computing is "...increases in student engagement."

Target the Copy Budget

Consider the savings of a paperless system. Re-develop your school newsletter by email and save money on copies. The copy budget would be dramatically reduced, in fact slashed, if all of your students suddenly turned in their work electronically. There's also a fantastic "Green" argument to saving trees and reducing your footprint.

Target the Textbook Budget

It will take a major re-work in the school's curriculum to eliminate even a single textbook, but consider the long-term cost analysis of textbook purchases versus computer purchases.

Title 1

If your school has "school-wide" designation for Title 1, then you can use Title 1 funds for school-wide computer purchases. These regulations may vary by state.

Family Computers

Consider that if you send the computers home at night, and allow the parents to use them too, that the student computers can become family computing centers that support the technical proficiency of the entire family. Schools may ask parents to co-fund the computer and/or provide insurance for loss or damage each year. There are additional usage policy requirements to enforce, but you may find it's worth it for the co-funding that parents can provide.

And Finally...Fundraise on Digital Wish

Invite your teachers to make their technology wish list at www.digitalwish.org, then invite parents and community members to donate!


Heather Chirtea, [email protected]

Executive Director, Digital Wish

Digital Wish is on a mission to solve technology shortfalls in American classrooms. We work in local schools to integrate technology in the classroom. www.digitalwish.orgis a dynamic website where teachers can post their technology wishes, and donors can contribute technology to needy classrooms. Flip Video camcorders are available to US schools through a 2-for-1 matching program. In the past year, Digital Wish brought technology grants to over 13,000 classrooms and they maintain a vibrant community of over 35,000 educators.

International Cars, Ltd. Celebrates Back to School Month with Digital Wish
Posted by Lindsay McFillin at 02:28:27 PM Mon 08/02/2010

Dealerships cheer educators, local schools with community giving

Danvers, Mass. – (August 2, 2010): The International Cars, Ltd. (ICL) family of dealerships invites its customers and community to join them this August in celebrating “National Back to School” month. For each vehicle sold throughout the month of August, each of ICL’s six dealerships will donate $100, up to $10,000, to local schools through online giving forum Digital Wish. Digital Wish is a national platform that empowers educators and donors to campaign cooperatively to put technology into the hands of students across America. ICL’s “Back to School” month donation will benefit local schools and assist Digital Wish in their mission to solve technology shortfalls in U.S. classrooms.

“Back to school can be a busy and stressful season for parents and teachers alike,” said Jack Donachie, president and CEO of International Cars, Ltd.  “From elementary to high school levels, educators today rely on technology to educate our youth and prepare them for successful futures. In a time where school funds and supplies are limited, we’ve partnered with Digital Wish to ease that stress by providing funding for much needed technology in the classrooms of our local communities.”

In addition to donating $100 per vehicle sold, ICL will also offer employee pricing to all educators throughout the month of August.

Digital Wish allows teachers to create "wish lists" of technology products needed for their classroom, and describe how each item will be utilized at www.digitalwish.org. Like a gift registry, visiting donors can purchase wish list items for classrooms through Digital Wish, or donate money to a specific classroom for future technology purchases. 100 percent of every donation to Digital Wish funds classroom technology, and Digital Wish matches every dollar with an additional two to ten percent in funding.  

“Right here in the US, our schools are in desperate need of technology and teachers who can prepare students for the future workforce they will enter into,” said Lindsay McFillin, development manager of Digital Wish.  “We believe that this is an issue that can be solved if every US community engages with their local schools to become part of the solution.  We are very thankful for generous organizations like International Cars, Ltd that believe in proactively investing in the communities it serves.”

Digital Wish invites the collaborative involvement of local communities, caring donors, and innovative teachers to make a personal investment in the community where they live and work. Teachers are encouraged use the platform to network with other educators across the country, sharing lesson plans, experiences, and advice on teaching in the 21st century. For more information, visit www.digitalwish.org.


About International Cars, Ltd:
International Cars, Ltd. is an employee owned company comprised of six New England area dealerships. The New Hampshire locations include: Dover Honda, Dover Chevrolet, Dover Auto World Collision Center; The ICL Used Car Clearance Center (formerly Saturn of Manchester), Porsche of Stratham and Audi Stratham. Honda North is located in Danvers, Massachusetts. The International Cars’ team, company-wide, is one that values ownership, accountability, and the importance of high-level service and customer satisfaction.

International Cars is headquartered at Honda North in Danvers, MA and is the recipient of several industry awards, including the 2007 Governor’s Highway Safety Association Peter K. O’Rourke Special Achievement Award and the Time Magazine 2006 Quality Dealer Award. Honda North is a 3-time Honda President’s Award winner, which is the most prestigious honor that Honda can grant to one of its dealerships. Dover Auto World in NH is a two-time President’s Award winner. Audi Stratham is a 2009 recipient of the Magna Society Award from Audi of America for excellence in customer service and performance. International Cars has also earned several AACE (Annual Award for Communications Excellence) Awards through The National ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) Association.

The Employee Owners of International Cars, Ltd. take great pride in supporting charitable based initiatives that directly impact their local communities. This type of involvement is an integral part of the success of employee ownership. For more information on International Cars, please call Ebben Zall Group at 781-449-3244 or visit www.iclautos.com.

About Digital Wish

Digital Wish is on a mission to solve technology shortfalls in US classrooms to prepare students to succeed in a global economy. Digital Wish promotes the early adoption of technology in schools by providing a platform for teachers and educators to develop technology wish lists, share project plans, collaborate on best practices, and purchase technology in a cost-effective manner. By streamlining and targeting the process of giving, Digital Wish allows large and small-scale donors to directly impact their local schools. www.digitalwish.org.

If you are interested in setting up a local giving initiative in your community, please contact [email protected]  

'Digital divide' targeted in e-Vermont project
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 06:21:29 PM Thu 05/20/2010

Originally published by the Burlington Free Press on 4/17/2010

Unlike Google's lottery-like "Fiber to Communities" project, the e-Vermont initiative doesn't promise super-high-speed Internet to every home.

But e-Vermont will deliver: This summer, 12 rural communities will receive financial and technical assistance to connect residents, businesses, schools and local governments or strengthen the digital connections they already have.

 To read more click here.

Grand Isle awarded e-Vermont grant
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 06:14:26 PM Thu 05/20/2010

Originally published by the Burlington Free Press on 5/20/10

Gran Isle awarded e-Vermont grant

NORTH HERO- Residents of Champlain Islands traditionally isolated from the mainland, this month opted to e-connectivity upgrades.

Grand Isle County is one of the 12 relatively isolate areas that received grants to improve Internet applications in schools, municipal and civic networks and in commerce. The money is not used to bring broadband to the community, rather it teacher residents to make better use of the internet.

 To read the full story click here.

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