As School Budget Decline, Art Programs Seek Crowd Funding Support with Responsibly.com

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In the face of extreme budget cuts, educators seek innovative ways to fund art programs.

Ms. Katherine Nelson, an art teacher at Warren T. White High School in Dallas, has experienced firsthand the now commonplace frustration of teaching in a vastly underfunded educational climate. Ms. Nelson was close to fulfilling her long-term dream of offering a full-scale ceramics program at W.T. White after gaining approval from the school to include it in the curriculum. However, the recent school budget cuts that have hit Texas have made it impossible for the school to financially fund the program. Not easily deterred, Ms. Nelson began researching her options and found an innovative and savvy potential solution; crowd funding.

Crowd funding is a relatively new technological phenomenon that allows individuals to fundraise personal or professional projects through viral donations. Ms. Nelson was able to post her request for funding using the company Responsibly.com, which is a non-profit that focuses on bringing educational experiences to life such as field trips, school performances, and science projects. Responsibly, a Los Angeles based company, recently partnered with Indie GoGo, a pioneer in the crowd-funding space, to help reach a wider spread of educators nationally. Ms. Nelson will be the first Dallas based educator to fundraise with Responsibly. She has already begun reaching out to friends, families, neighbors and art enthusiasts, directing them to the site and beginning her campaign to fund this $22,000 dollar program.

The financial cuts within school systems are not just creating financial discord for teachers, but also a decrease in the quality of education for students. Texas school funding will be suffering another $4 billion dollars of budget cuts in the next calendar year. As Texas schools and teachers struggle to adjust to this massive underfunding, educational programs and students continue to pay the price. Ms. Nelson’s campaign to fundraise is her way of fighting against Texas’ educational financial crisis and the effects it could have on her student’s classroom experiences. When asked why she didn’t choose a more typical fundraising path, Ms. Nelson commented, “I turned to Responsibly.com to help guide me through the daunting task of fundraising. Indie GoGo & Responsibly helped me alleviate almost all of the fear of fundraising by making it easy, fun, and social.”

The money raised will launch a new program with both equipment and lesson plans that will be used for many years to come. For more information about the project, go to http://www.indiegogo.com/Be-a-Clay-Angel?a=271155

Art education is usually the first to go as public school budgets shrink. Unfortunately, it’s these programs that are also recognized as instilling confidence and sparking creativity in America’s youth, which feeds their passion for learning. When speaking about the necessity of her program and why she finds it so invaluable, Ms. Nelson stated “Ceramics is one of the very few subjects where everyone can succeed, regardless of socioeconomic status, physical/mental conditions, language limitations, or lack of previous education. Once a student tastes success in any form, they are more willing to try harder in all their subjects. This moves from school to real life situations. I see a real and tangible opportunity to keep our kids off the streets and away from drugs....CLAY!”

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Stuart Felkner
stuart@responsibly.com
213 973 8064
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