New Approach to Fundraising for School Technology

Press Release Details

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New Approach to Fundraising for School Technology

Press Release

May 8, 2015 (San Francisco, CA) - SFUSD is launching the first-ever school district crowdfunding initiative that enables donors to give directly to district schools through one central portal. The portal, called SparkLearning, will focus on raising funds for student classroom technology and eventually other priorities to help the district achieve its vision for teaching and learning.

“In SFUSD’s Vision 2025, we envision equipping all classrooms with next-generation media and technology capabilities, ensuring that students do not just understand, but can also contribute to and thrive in the digital world. By working together, we will tap the talent, tech-savvy and spirit of innovation that permeates our city. We will ensure that students graduate with dreams and the abilities to achieve them, creating not just a pool but an ocean of local talent to feed the next generation of San Francisco industry," said SFUSD Superintendent Richard A. Carranza.

Over the past several years, SFUSD has invested the limited public funds it receives for technology to ensure that all schools have the basics: high quality computer labs and broadband Internet. Historically, individual schools and classroom teachers have had to independently fundraise for school site-specific resources that are not included in federal, state and local funding allocations.

“SparkLearning provides a transparent mechanism for individuals and businesses to give SFUSD schools the tools they need for 21st century teaching and learning, starting with technology. Instead of the variances and inequities that are in place with school-based fundraising, we want to build on the community support for our schools by creating an easy and equitable way to give,” Carranza continued.

Mayor Ed Lee, who has been a champion for local businesses partnering with public schools, thanked Tilt for contributing the technology that powers SparkLearning, and enabling people to participate in fundraising for schools in an immediate and personal way.

“An investment in education is the best investment we can all make, and this new Tilt SparkLearning Platform is making it easier to make that investment,” said Mayor Ed Lee.  “The school district’s new platform provides an easy avenue for philanthropic dollars to reach our schools and our students directly, so they receive the education that will help them succeed in the 21st Century economy.”

About the Tilt SparkLearning Platform

SFUSD wanted an online platform that provided an easy, transparent way for donors to support all of its schools directly. It reviewed several possible content management systems and Tilt was selected as the best choice for the district.

A next generation crowdfunding platform, Tilt, is the easiest way to collect, fundraise, or pool money securely and effectively online. The San Francisco based company created a single portal for SFUSD, SparkLearning, which supports individual crowdfunding campaigns for schools, enabling donors to contribute easily to specific schools and help them meet their goals.

“Growing up in Egypt, I didn’t have access to a computer until I was 18 years old,” said Khaled Hussein, CTO and co-founder of Tilt. “My first computer science class was transformative - I found my passion.  Both personally and as a company, we are committed to providing technology to school children because we know how vital and life-changing it can be.”

Technology as an Accelerator

Superintendent Carranza emphasized that getting more technology in the hands of students is not the goal. Instead, it is about developing students who can compete and thrive in the local economy. Access to technology is one important accelerator of this goal.

The learning experiences the district wants to make available to all students, as outlined in its Vision 2025, require students to have access to digital devices, applications and content throughout their Prek-12 experience. SFUSD developed the Digital District Plan, a five-year plan that articulates how the district will move toward a more ubiquitous use of technology in all subject areas and grade levels.

To launch the program, 13 SFUSD schools volunteered to be pilot schools in the campaign. These schools are responsible for developing the content for their individual school page with the support of the district that reflects their unique vision, needs, and goals for technology. Through's Circle the Schools programs, several tech companies in San Francisco have partnered with pilot schools to help them develop their crowdfunding pages and raise seed funding for site-based technology.  

SFUSD is planning to eventually support each school to share their school-specific technology requests on SparkLearning.

When donations come through SparkLearning, principals will not have to navigate purchasing technology on their own. Through this system, SFUSD can centralize purchasing, which will lead to greater savings and maintain a standard for district loss and theft prevention. More importantly, SFUSD can ensure that the technology purchased is compatible with the networks and the devices supported by the district’s instructional technology and IT departments.  

The district is not taking any overhead on donations made to schools and Tilt is taking only one percent to offset the site maintenance expenses. By contrast, most online donation and crowdfunding platforms accessed by individual teachers and schools have high overheads.

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Page updated on 05/08/15

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