My class and five other 5th-grade classrooms from Andersen School in Minneapolis are headed for Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in northern Minnesota in two months. It’s going to be a great learning experience for our students, not to mention a lot of fun. (Read my post about last year’s trip here)
97% of the students of our school come from families below the poverty line. Two-thirds speak English as a second language. Virtually all are students of color. They also blow just about every stereotype of kids from these kinds of backgrounds out of the water. They are, for the most part, bright, well-behaved, good students, good kids. Most of them come from strong families, good parents and have hard-working role models in their lives.
So what’s the problem? A couple of things.
First, most of them have not had the experiences in their lives that children from wealthier backgrounds have. Summer camps, music lessons, sports teams, seeing other places, doing new things, being away from home — all that stuff that many of us want for our children — are lacking for many of these students.
The other thing they lack is money. When you are “working poor”, you live paycheck to paycheck. You often work more than one job and worry constantly about making ends meet. You don’t have savings to dip into for things like expensive field trips.
The total bill for our 5th grade team is in the neighborhood of $22,000 for this 3-day trip (and that’s after a break on the bus price and the Wolf Ridge fee). That breaks down to nearly $200 per student. At other schools, they do some fundraising, but many families can afford to pay the money — maybe even kick in a little extra for a scholarship.
At Andersen, several teachers have worked very hard writing grants and soliciting individual donations from friends. Every year it’s stressful and every year it seems to come down to the wire. We estimate our grant and donation money based on past experience and then ask our families to either pay or fundraise a certain amount. This year we’re asking for each student to pay $45 — a reasonable, but still significant amount.
We’ve got 60 days to go and it’s tight again this year. We’re unsure about getting one of the grants and we’re getting a little nervous.
I generally don’t like to ask for money, but I have no problem putting this out there in blogland for anyone who might be interested in making a tax-deductible contribution to our school, in any amount — small or large. In fact, I’m proud to be a teacher of these kids and I believe that this trip is such an important experience for them (and one that most of them will never have if we don’t take them) that I’m asking anyone who might be interested to help us out a bit.
We’re not asking you to feel sorry for our kids — just for a few bucks to send a deserving kid to camp.
Thank you very much. By the way, the kids are well-aware that most of the money to pay for the trip comes from generous donors, and they’re very grateful for it.
Email me at Steven.Date@yahoo.com for more info.
If you’d like to send a donation by check, make it out to “Andersen United Community School”.
Mail it to me at:
Steve Date / See to Sea Productions
P.O. Box 19416
Minneapolis, MN 55419
Thanks VERY much!