Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gates Foundation spurs donations for Hillsborough school projects

TAMPA — Imagine getting $15 in your mailbox with just one catch: It must be donated to a local classroom.

Something like that is happening in the Hillsborough County school district, which has been urging families to take advantage of a donation by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to jump-start local giving.

The district has sent out gift cards and automated calls urging families to choose a project at DonorsChoose.org/Hillsborough 2011, where teachers have registered projects seeking everything from beanbag chairs and computers to sports equipment.

Every card that gets redeemed pulls down a bit of Gates funding, with more coming in from free gift cards at local Starbucks and Best Buy outlets. So far nearly $500,000 has been raised for about 1,200 projects, said district spokesman Stephen Hegarty.

"They've never had anyone be quite as aggressive as we've been," he said, describing Hillsborough's publicity campaign.

Sarah Caldwell, a prekindergarten instructor at Sulphur Springs Elementary School, said she learned about DonorsChoose.org while teaching in North Carolina. Since 2008, she's raised $3,692 to buy books, educational games and other supplies.

"It gives a different experience to my kids," she said, describing an aquarium project that got funded. "They have fish in the classroom now that they're able to take care of and watch grow."

Music teacher Ken Gabel at DeSoto Elementary is still looking for $521 to pay for hand drums and tambourines so every student can play an instrument during class. His "Drumming Dragons" project is one of 1,300 Hillsborough proposals still vying for attention.

"Smaller projects like mine, or smaller schools, they kind of get buried in the masses," said Gabel, who goes by "Mr. G" on the web site.

DonorsChoose.org has been around for a decade, but it's getting a burst of attention this year. The Gates Foundation pledged $1 million to spur local giving in three districts that have received major education grants, including Hillsborough, said spokeswoman Deborah Veney Robinson.

"That's why our numbers are so big here," said Hegarty.

The district's gift cards can be redeemed through April 1, while cards from Starbucks and Best Buy can be used through April 15, he said.

Reach Tom Marshall at tmarshall@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3400.

Gates Foundation spurs donations for Hillsborough school projects 03/28/11 [Last modified: Monday, March 28, 2011 11:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Half of Florida lawmakers fail or nearly fail review of support for public records

    State Roundup

    WEST PALM BEACH — Half of Florida's legislators failed or nearly failed in a review of their support for public records and meetings given by Florida newspapers and an open-government group after this year's legislative sessions.

    State Senator Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton (left) and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran ranked on opposite sides of the spectrum in an analysis of support for open records. Galvano scored a B-minus and Corcoran scored a D-plus.
[Times file photo]
  2. Yale dean on leave over offensive Yelp reviews leaves post

    Bizarre News

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Yale University dean who was placed on leave over offensive reviews she posted on Yelp has left her position at the Ivy League institution, school officials said Tuesday.

  3. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  4. The people you meet along O.J. Howard Lane

    Bucs

    OJ Howard (far right) is seen in a photo from his adolescent years at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Prattville, Ala., on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Howard served as an usher in addition to attending regular services at this church.