Curran Public School is one of the first schools in Australia to use Schools Plus’ new crowdfunding platform. After attracting enough support to send its students to a national competition and winning, the school is now raising money to send its team to the global finals in America.
It’s a long way from Macquarie Fields to Michigan. Not just in miles, but in terms of what it represents for 12 young students from one of Sydney’s most disadvantaged suburbs who will fly there in 2016 to represent their country.
“You dream all your life to stand in front of somewhere and hear the national anthem played for you and these kids are going to get that,” says Michael Strahan, the principal of Curran Public School in the housing estate suburb of Macquarie Fields.
“Their postcode shouldn’t dictate their opportunities. This is a perfect example – we got to be national champions!”
In June 2016, the students from Curran – aged between 10 and 12 years – will compete in the international finals of the Future Problem Solving Program. With them will be a group of students from another Sydney school – Condell Park Public School – whose team has also been invited to the international finals.
Both schools are using Schools Plus’ new crowdfunding platform to raise the tens of thousands of dollars required to send the students and their coaches to the United States. At more than $4000 per participant, it is a sum way out of reach for the students’ families.
For Curran Public School, it will be the second time they’ve turned to Schools Plus for help raising funds. In October, the school used the crowdfunding platform to reach its first target of $5450 to send its team to Brisbane, where it won the national finals of the Future Problem Solving Program in October.
The platform allows disadvantaged schools across Australia to raise funds through their own networks of families, friends, local business and clubs for initiatives that lead to improved student outcomes. Schools can design their online profile to promote their projects through social media, school newsletter, press release or letters. Donors who support the project via Schools Plus can claim a tax deduction for all donations over $2.
Michael Strahan says Curran’s staff put a lot of effort into planning the fundraising campaign, which involved extensive use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook and directly targeting local businesses, clubs and state and federal MPs. Every teacher was asked to consider who they could approach for donations.
“I wanted it to be authentic,” he said.
Still coming to terms with their win, the students are now contemplating the thought of flying overseas – for most of the children, it will be their first international trip. They continue to work on their projects in the lead-up to the Michigan finals.
Curran’s team took out the junior division in the Community Problem Solving challenge with its education ‘care packages’ for children starting Kindergarten next year and their families. The packs contain alphabet, number and colour charts, plus pencils and other items that help children get a headstart to their school years. They were designed after the students recognised that many Kindergarten children started school without skills such as knowing numbers, basic sight words or how to write their names.
Condell Park’s initiative, iHELP, involved buying iPads for the school at the local Bankstown Lidcombe Hospital to make learning easier for sick children confined to their beds. It is now raising funds to send its students to the Michigan finals too.
If your school is interested in crowdfunding for a project, find out more information.