Closing Technology Gaps: Open School Project (team leaders: Ashley Hamann & Trevor Stewart)

https://spark.adobe.com/video/fO4J3yiUq7Qsg/embed

The Goal

The goal for this project is to fundraise enough money to be able to buy 22 new iPads for the students at Open School. The first objective is creating an online profile at a website where others are encouraged to donate if they would like to help. Along with these efforts, finding and applying for qualifying grants for the school is the second objective. Open schools is a school that takes in students that may need more help with graduating and staying motivated in their education. In addition to that, they are also a school that does not receive much funding from the government and is in need of many resources for its students.

This Course has really pushed us to think deeply about the inequities present in the education system and work to address these issues through different critical service learning frameworks. Our PIC project this term aimed to redistribute some of the power in the education system through providing Open School East with the technology needed to open up a class that would give students an opportunity to learn, create, and explore the world through technology. Open School East is a great asset for students who are interested in flexible learning and an alternative option to the public school system. However, open schools often do not have the same access to technology as students in the public school system. Having this access can really help these students learn and master skills that would give them an advantage in college and the workforce. Our goal was to raise $10,000 in order to purchase the 22 iPads needed to teach the technology course the school would like to provide.

Recommendations

Our team recommends that at the start of the term, the next group builds a strong relationship with Open School. Go and visit the school, meet with Principal Ross. Make a real, meaningful connection with the school. There are three ways you might take on this project. We have a GoFundMe page set up, and it may be possible for you to use it to start a fundraising campaign. Our grant proposal is designed to make grant writing easier to do; however, if you want to go that route, it could be more helpful to seek out more locally-funded grants. Grants can often be lengthier and harder to write than you may thing, as our group found out. The last option is community outreach: a good place to start may be with businesses that have worked with Open School East in the past. Alumni and parent groups may also be a good option. We believe that going to the community around Open School East for help is essential to a successful fundraising campaign.

Challenges

Some of the challenges we have faced this term have been getting a late start in the term, figuring out the direction that we wanted to take, taking the time to write up a grant proposal, and then realizing periodically that we were missing information that we needed from the school to move forward. At the beginning of the term, we were all set out to apply for grants and start a crowdfunding campaign. However, we did not realize how much work would go into the proposal and We took a couple of weeks to write up and edit a grant proposal. We also made a crowdsourcing campaign but realized that we did not have enough time in the term to really get it going. During all of this, we also had questions that would arise that only the school could answer, such as the school’s non-profit status and such. While the principle of Open School was very helpful, we realized that we would need a point person at the school who would be willing to take on some responsibility after our term had ended. Knowing that the principal of a school is very busy, we did not want to burden them any further

During these 11 weeks we were able to visit with Open School’s principal in order to get better information about the needs of the school. After hearing him out, there was a lot of brainstorming to see what direction the project could be taken. In the end we decided to look for grants and options where the school was eligible for. There were various grants and a list was made, but unfortunately we were unable to complete the application process because of various questions and requirements that were needed, as well as time restrictions. Another aspect of the project that we were able to start was a GoFundme page, where donations could be made to help reach the goal of $11,000.

TEAM MEMBERS: Trevor Stewart, Ashley Hamann, Jessica Urbina, Jasmine Bahramian, and Marina Bubnova

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3 thoughts on “Closing Technology Gaps: Open School Project (team leaders: Ashley Hamann & Trevor Stewart)

  1. If I had to describe Open School in one word I would say it is “alive”. Open School is an amazing place filled with lively students and dedicated faculty. I agree with what your group said in its Spark video, everyone should go and see Open School for themselves. It really is something you have to see and feel in person. When you walk in the doors you are immediately met with a large auditorium filled with staff and students. You can often catch meaningful interactions between the staff and their students walking up and down the steps there. The entire place is alive with the sounds and students.
    While I was at Open School, I was able to see the students use the small amount of technology that was on hand in one of the classrooms. After their work was done some students used the class computers to look up different educational topics or to watch videos. These students, like most their age, can use technology. The idea of taking knowledge of something they already love and parlaying it into a useable skill is perfect.
    In a conversation I had with one of their instructors I found out that many of their students don’t have feasible fruitful future prospects. Often no one in the student’s family has attended college and their parents may struggle finding gainful employment. Learning coding as a skill could open up a new world of possibilities for these children. Currently, Open School East only has students from 7th-9th grades. As they recruit into the higher grades my hope is that classes like this that foster not just knowledge, but skill will become a large part of the curriculum. Having technology for this class sounds like it will be the first step toward Open School fostering passion and possibilities in students on the other side of the opportunity gap.
    I appreciate all the work that your group did this term and I hope that in the terms to come that you are able to make this happen for the students at Open School!

    Best.

  2. Great work you guys! I’ve been working with a non profit for about a year now, and I know how time consuming writing up grant proposals can sometimes be. It’s great that you all were about to make it happen though! The next term that works on this project as well i am sure will be very grateful that you guys were able to get this done! A go fund me account was a great idea to get some good csh flowing in also for those iPads. there are many generous people out there that donate to great causes like this one!

    These iPads for the students at Open School would be a great resource for these children. I am glad you guys got this much done through out the term, these kids need as much help as we can give them! raising the statistics for their graduation rates is essential! $11,000 is a lot of money but with persistence and staying closely connected throughout the term, with Open School I’m sure this goal will be accomplished soon!

  3. It was great to read that the clear goal of redistributing power was your focus for this project. I think it is needed to give students the availability and resources needed to succeed, and by doing so, redistributing that power and balancing the playing field.

    Also, it seems as though your team was able to identify some challenges that the next group can consider when creating an action plan. This information, although not helpful in the actual fundraising portion of the project, will be really helpful moving forward. All things can be useful, and the information you’ve provided will be very useful moving forward.

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