Show Me the Money!

Leah Clark Education

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Asking for money can be so awkward, right? But I shouldn’t feel weird about since I worked in retail for nearly ten years. I routinely asked people to whip out their credit card to pay for their purchases without flinching.

But when it came to asking people for money as a teacher, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I feared if I asked, no one would give me their hard-earned cash, and I would end up looking like a fool. So instead, I dug into my own pockets to shell out cash for books and supplies.

But this summer, I decided I wanted to teach a new book, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, with my juniors. The problem was it only was available in hardback and cost about $16 per copy. I knew I couldn’t ask my students to cough up $16 for a book.

So I decided to go out on a limb and ask people for money, $629.87 to be exact.

I created a project. It took less than an hour and was relatively easy. I simply found the books on Amazon and described my classroom, school, and purpose of the project. With just a few clicks, I was ready to ask people for money!

I linked my project to my social media accounts and texted a link to my friends and family. Within a few hours, 50% of my project was funded. I was thrilled!

A few days later, I reposted my project and received a few more dollars. I felt very optimistic about asking people for money, contrary to my initial hesitations.

Then something magical happened. I logged on to check my project during a special day when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was supersizing donations. Suddenly, my project was funded! Hooray! My students would receive their books!

I looked at the names of my contributors and noticed a name I didn’t recognize. Sylvia from Scottsdale made a donation with a note, “Readers are Leaders. Best of luck.” A complete stranger gave me enough money to complete my project for my students. Wow!

When I shared the news with my students, they started clapping. Let me remind you, I teach high school juniors. High school juniors clapped when they heard we were receiving books. Not a typical response in my experience. I was blown away at their reaction. But more so, I was astonished by the generosity of others.

I wish I had done this years ago. I can’t imagine all the amazing resources I could be using by simply asking people for money. I learned that people do want to help. They just need to be asked.

Do you have something you would love to use with your kiddos? Something that would positively impact their learning? Just ask! There are ways to fund your classrooms with websites such as or by creating an Amazon wish list.

Take the plunge. Ask for the money! You may be surprised who chips in a few bucks.

On a side note, we started reading the books from our project this week. I don’t know if it’s the content of the book or the fact that we are reading something “special” that Mrs. Clark procured, but the kids are completely engaged. Maybe it’s both. Either way, I am thrilled to see my students reading and thinking! Readers are leaders. 


Leah Clark

Phoenix, Arizona

I joined the teaching profession after spending several years in luxury retail. While the free clothes and handbags were definite job perks, I felt burned out and tired of long hours, weekends and holidays. So, I went back to school to become a teacher and have never looked back. I love my job!
My teaching philosophy is simple: Do what’s best for kids. While it’s not eloquent, this humble phrase directs every decision I make about teaching and students. As a Language Arts teacher at a central Phoenix high school, it’s my honor and passion to create opportunities for students to communicate, collaborate, create and connect with one another and the world around them.
When I am not grading a stack of essays, planning a new lesson, or chaperoning a school dance, I love riding my yellow Huffy bicycle around town, sampling a new restaurant, and traveling to Flagstaff with my husband.

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Comments 7

  1. Donnie Dicus

    I have done several “fund raisers” for materials or resources. I have always been amazed at the generosity of people. It used to frustrate me because it seems like people do not support education when you look at who is elected and the policies they put in place. However, if you provide an opportunity for people to provide funds and they know it is going straight to the intended source, they are very willing to chip in.

    1. Leah Clark

      So true! It’s a sad reality that we have to rely on the generosity of our communities rather than politicians who are supposed to the future generations.

  2. Dr. Austine Etcheverry

    I am always blown away by the generosity of people when the teachers at my school do a Donors Choose Project. It is so awesome the number of people who are willing to help our students have the resources they need to learn and grow. While I wish it wasn’t necessary, I’m grateful it is there for teachers.

  3. Rachel Perugini

    A lot of districts are starting to regulate those donor’s choose projects- we have to have ours pre-approved… it is a shame that teachers need websites like these, but I know lots of teachers have done really well getting projects or national board components funded.

    1. Leah Clark

      Wow! I wonder what’s causing districts to require preapproval for projects they aren’t funding! That seems a little ironic, doesn’t it?

  4. James King

    This is so shocking that district want oversight and veto power over DonorsChoose.

    We need donors choose because our districts have such tight budgets and limit our resources.

    I loved getting books for my 9th grade English students using the platform! I also love when they run promos!

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