Dublin Partners in Education and Chevron Join Forces to Fuel Our Schools

Michael Utsumi, Funding & Programs Coordinator
December 12, 2019

One of the pioneers in the crowdfunding space is Charles Best. In 2000, Mr. Best was working as a high school history teacher in New York. At the earliest stage of his educational career, he witnessed first-hand how many of his colleagues purchased classroom and project supplies out their own pockets. The more that he researched the lack of materials, it became evident that this was not just a regional problem – but one that touched teachers in every state. So, he envisioned an online platform where individuals could connect directly with a classroom to support their needs. To prove its efficacy, Charles anonymously funded the first 10 projects.

In less than 20 years, DonorsChoose announced that they had funded over 1 million projects and over 80% of public and public charter schools have received funding. Over time, the organization has added partners that include Target, Google.org and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  In October 2019, DPIE partnered with Chevron USA in two different ways. Chevron committed as a signature sponsor of the DPIE Speakeasy Gala at the highest tier. In addition, the company served as the month-long “host” of DonorsChoose under the mantle of “Fuel Your School.” More specifically, Chevron was the funder for projects submitted during October and Dublin was one of the 12 communities targeted for this benefit.  In summary, $575,000 was pledged to support this massive effort.

The timing of the kickoff could not have been better. The Steward of the Program, Nathan Rearick, provided a brief overview at the Gala. Further, he presented DPIE with 12 - $100 gift certificates – one for each school in the Dublin Unified School District to help the program out of the gate. To summarize, 64 grants were sustained and Dublin ranked #4 in fully funded projects.  We recently had the opportunity to traverse the city and receive feedback from some Dublin educators on their experience and funded projects. 

Lauren Tashjian at Green Elementary School applied for various pieces of flexible furniture. The goal was to secure alternative seating that improves focus and comfort.  She was granted $1,259.

DPIE: Please articulate the benefits of flexible furniture in your classroom.

Tashjian: “The flexible seating has allowed freedom for the students in my classroom. They are able to sit where they feel they will best learn. I am able to create more of a community than in a traditional classroom! The students feel safe and comfortable, allowing them to take risks and try their best in all academic areas. Flexible seating has given the students an opportunity to take charge of their learning!”

 New flexible furniture at Green Elementary

Graham Beatts is a French teacher at Cottonwood Creek K-8 School. As a second-year teacher, he was facing the ultimate dilemma: He didn’t have any fiction/non-fiction books. He was granted $557 and yielded 52 French language books.

DPIE: What has been the immediate impact for your students with these new titles? 

Beatts: “As the first World Language class at Cottonwood Creek School, building a successful program can be a challenge. However, with donations from our parents, our PFC, the school, and the Chevron Fuel Your School program through DonorsChoose, we have been able to have access to supplies and support that is transforming our students' world language learning.

As soon as I presented the new texts to the students, many were thrilled to recognize just how much of the words they were able to understand and follow. Several students were shocked to see the numerous cognates between the two languages! Students were able to quickly realize how skills that they learned in elementary school, such as using the pictures to identify meaning, transfer to a World Language text. Lastly, the texts provide our students with "authentic text" in French, meaning text that occurs outside of a textbook and in real life resources. I am so excited to continue to use these donated texts to support our students in their language growth!”

New French Books at Cottonwood Creek

Karey Ronnow teaches photography and is responsible for the yearbook effort at Wells Middle School. Her desire was to truly convert her classroom into a photography studio. Some of the items that she received included a Canon EF lens, black material backdrop and a Dimmable LED Panel for more advanced photography techniques. She was granted $812.

DPIE: Please describe the value that students experience in a visual arts-based course.

Ronnow: “Everyone should have access to art education! Allowing students to have a creative outlet, grants them the freedom to create and explore the world according to their own needs and desires. Unlike an academic class art assignment, the visual art classroom does not have a right or wrong answer, but rather focuses on individual growth and exploration.

I encourage my students to fail, problem solve, critically think, and create more. Although assignments can be specific, the outcomes are completely individual, and each result is celebrated. Allowing students this freedom, helps build their self-confidence which often trickles into other classes. Not everyone is going to walk out of my room a future professional photographer or artist, but the skills they gain grants students the knowledge to critically look at visual arts and provides them the courage to step outside their comfort zone in other aspects of life.” 

New Photo Studio at Wells Middle School

We would like to thank these educators for sharing their successes. Plus, we would like to acknowledge Chevron as a positive community member and for helping to fuel many of our classrooms in Dublin.