Fill up your car, help out a local school.
It's a simple premise, combined with an innovative nationwide program linking donors with classrooms, that will pump funds into East Bay classrooms.
Chevron USA is working with an online educational charity network to fund supplies and other classroom programs for K-12 teachers in public schools in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Throughout October,¿ a dollar from all fill-ups of at least eight gallons at participating Chevron and Texaco stations, up to $5 million, will go to directly support public education in nine communities nationwide, including Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The money will go to public school teachers in the two counties who submit project proposals on a popular philanthropic website.
Chevron's dollars will be disbursed through DonorsChoose.org. Launched in 2000, DonorsChoose.org allows public school teachers across the United States to post classroom project requests, ranging from pencils to microscope slides.
Carolina Martin, senior vice president at DonorsChoose.org, said the program enables average people to link their dollars directly to the programs they like best.
"People want to get involved in education, they care about public schools," Martin said. "With DonorsChoose, they can easily find that school and teacher and program they want to help."
About $1 million of the total should go to Alameda and Contra Costa districts, Martin said, about the same as in 2010 and 2011.
DonorsChoose.org was launched in 2000. Public school teachers from around the country post requests, and individuals can give directly to the ones that inspire them. To date, 237,000 public and charter school teachers have used DonorsChoose.org to secure $120 million in books, art supplies, technology and other resources.
More than $100 million has come in the past four years alone. Donations are generally between $800 and $2,000. Martin said more than 852,000 people have contributed to date.
In addition to Alameda and Contra Costa counties, the program will raise money in Orange, Kern and Sacramento counties, along with communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas and Utah.
Since its inception in 2010, Fuel Your School has funded more than 3,000 classroom projects at nearly 600 schools, and the program has grown each year to support students in additional communities. The funding will be disbursed by prioritizing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (together referred to as STEM), in order of posted requests, spread out across schools.
"This is a good opportunity to help classrooms in a different way, particularly in math, science and engineering," said Chevron spokesman Brent Tippen. "DonorsChoose.org goes straight to the teachers and their classroom needs. We want to help. We hire these scientists and physicists and chemists one day, but we also want all kids to have these basic educational needs met."
As of late September, 2,305 qualifying projects across the nine markets had been submitted, with 1,083 qualifying projects coming from Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, according to Chevron.
"There is never enough state-level funding, and districts are under pressure to find other resources and partnerships," said Nia Rashidchi, a West Contra Costa Unified assistant superintendent. "Our teachers are ecstatic about this opportunity."
Public school teachers and other educators in Contra Costa and Alameda county districts are invited to post eligible projects until Nov. 30 at www.DonorsChoose.org.