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Funding STEM with Online Donations

Fuel Your School provided funding for a microscope and slides for students in  Sacramento, Calif. Due to a lack of adequate school funding, teachers nationwide spend an average of $350 of their own money each year to pay for basic classroom materials, totaling $1.3 billion annually. Dedicated to helping to end that practice, at least for science, Fuel Your School is a partnership program among Chevron,, an online charity to buy classroom learning materials, and local school districts.

The partnership takes the burden off teachers and funds classroom projects that prepare students for STEM careers. “We rely heavily on STEM education for our employees—we’re hiring engineers and chemists and scientists and mathematicians all over the world,” says Brent Tippen, a Chevron spokesperson. “We think that effective STEM education is one of the requirements for securing economic growth and producing a workforce that will compete in the global marketplace.”

In 2011, Fuel Your School started with two communities, and now covers nine as of last fall, operating in California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, and Utah—areas close to Chevron business operations. In these communities, Chevron donated $1 for every vehicle that filled up their tanks with eight gallons or more per trip during October at participating Chevron and Texaco stations, and made a total contribution of nearly $4.5 million. This money went to projects that public school teachers requested and posted on between September and November.Students in a Fullerton, Calif. classroom use a Fuel Your School-funded rubber band cannon.

Anyone can donate any amount to the project of their choosing year round. Teachers using the site for the first time can request up to $800, and more frequent users can request up to $2,000. When a project meets its funding goal, the organization will ship the materials to the school. Donors also get photos of the project taking place, a letter from the teacher, and insight into how their money was spent.

As of Dec. 3, Fuel Your School funded 4,569 projects at 1,591 schools, including $815 for an earthworm composting bin in a Sacramento, Calif., classroom and $1,283 to supplement a struggling science curriculum in New Orleans with science readers and a recycling activity kit.

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