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Site ensures donations go where they're needed

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

The Web page at set up to help Springfield schools has a list of projects in need of funding, but also a list of needs from public school teachers that have been funded.

The Classical High School Class of 1957 has spearheaded a campaign for local residents to use the Internet-based charitable group to directly fund specific projects proposed by teachers.

Larry DeRose, one of the class members, noted that since the class announced the effort earlier this year, projects at the Homer Street Elementary School, the Zanetti Montessori School, the Gates Expeditionary School, the High School of Science and Technology, Central High School, Washington Elementary School, Liberty Elementary School, Mary Lynch Elementary School, Glenwood Elementary School and the High School of Commerce have been funded.

Among the projects the Classical group have funded either fully or partially include "Using Our Brains" at the Glenwood Elementary in which $327 purchased 45 recorders and 15 music stands for a music program; "Myths and Folklore" at the Zanetti School, in which $452 bought books; and "Extra Extra" at the Homer Street School, in which $298 bought subscriptions for "My Weekly Reader."

The Classical alumni group started with a fund of $20,000 and DeRose hopes that other Springfield high school alumni will consider making a donation to the alumni effort.

Donors Choose allows people to fund either completely or partially a wide range of teacher needs and DeRose said that for every dollar that has come out of the classmates' $20,000 fund for projects there has been almost another dollar that has come from the public at large.

Any contribution made by an individual is tax-deductible and the donor receives a follow-up report on the impact of the program he or she funded. The current projects needing funding can be seen at

To encourage greater participation from Springfield alumni, DeRose and his group have been contacting every class reunion they learn of to propose a class gift be made through Donors Choose.

"We're trying to get individuals aware so they can decide how they can get involved, either as an individual or as a class," he said.

He said that Dr. Alan Ingram, the city's new school superintendent, is a supporter of the Donors Choose Web site as his wife, a teacher, has used the site to fund projects in her own classroom.

Ingram has appointed Kate Fenton, the head of professional development for the school system, to be an advocate for the program.

DeRose said his group will be meeting with and making a presentation for all of the city's principals and with the leadership teachers about the site and what it can do for the school system.

Looking over the list of completed projects, DeRose said, "It [the program] is working."