Making a difference in education: Six ways to contribute to schools in your community

Family Features | 4/1/2019, 12:11 p.m.
In communities across the country, many cities and towns revolve around their local school districts.

Family Features

In communities across the country, many cities and towns revolve around their local school districts. As education is considered one of the backbones of society, it’s common for community members to seek ways to assist students through school-related programs.

If you’re interested in making a positive impact on your local schools, teachers and students, consider these tips from the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, a philanthropic arm of Bayer:

Donate supplies

From pens and pencils to computer monitors and other tech devices, schools are seemingly always in need of tools to help students thrive in a hands-on learning environment. Consider donating your gently used items for students to use in the classroom. For example, you may have binders, folders and writing utensils in your home office that could be used in a school setting, or you can even buy new materials at the store and contribute those to students you know personally or to a classroom in need.

Volunteer in the classroom

If a more direct approach to giving is your preference, lending time and talent to a local school can be another charitable option. Try reading to younger children during your spare time, or to have an impact on older students, speak to classes about your job to provide real-world insight. While it requires more of a time commitment and likely certification in some form, applying to become a substitute teacher is a way to assist both students and teachers in your area.

Nominate schools for grants

To better understand the evolving world, some of the more pressing educational areas include science, technology, engineering and math. You can assist public schools in your area and help provide more STEM opportunities by nominating them for special grants, such as those offered by the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program, which has awarded more than $16 million in grants to more than 900 public schools since 2011. From Jan. 1 through April 1, farmers can nominate local public school districts to apply for $10,000 and $25,000 grants.

Past winning programs used funds to improve internet connectivity, develop industrial arts labs and create life science and livestock learning laboratories. Find more information and nominate your local school at http://www.americasfarmers.com.

Think Outside the Classroom

It’s entirely possible the hours of the school day and your work schedule simply don’t align. Rather than helping inside the classroom, you can assist in after-school programs like sports and other extracurricular activities as a coach or sponsor. Additionally, school projects that require time spent job shadowing are common in middle school and high school, meaning you can volunteer to allow students to gain real-world experience by joining you at your workplace for a predetermined amount of time.

Attend meetings

School board meetings in many areas occur weekly or monthly and are typically open to the public. If your local school district allows public attendance, consider making regular appearances. While you may not always share your opinion on school board matters, attending can, at the very least, allow you to stay up-to-date with the happenings of the community and keep informed on important topics and potential areas of need.