Fuel Your School energizes classroom at Peres Elementary

Linda Townsend-Bryson shows students materials

Linda Townsend-Bryson shows students materials donated by ChooseDonors.org and Chevron. The Fuel Your School Program donates school supplies to teachers in need. (Photo by: Erik Reyna)

About 30 2nd graders marveled at their teacher, Linda Townsend-Bryson as she pulled a new microscope out of its box to show them.

“Whoa,” said the Peres Elementary students in unison as Townsend-Bryson explained that the microscope came with prepared slides containing samples of carrot root, onion skin and cucumber.

The three boxes full of school supplies that were awarded to Townsend-Bryson’s class came from Fuel Your School, a program spawned by a partnership that began in 2009 between DonorsChoose.org, an online charity that donates money to schools, and Chevron.

A goal of the program is to aid teachers who end up paying for school supplies out of their own pocket, as Townsend-Bryson has had to do in the past.

“We do spend a lot of our money out of our pocket,” Townsend-Bryson said. “I spent a lot of money even before I got anything from DonorsChoose.”

Townsend-Bryson wants to get the kids excited about learning so they can research new subjects on their own.

“My job is to give them the tools that they need to pique that interest, to kind of whet that appetite,” she said. “All of that will help them to be better students, better people, have choices. So if they want to be a scientist they can, if they want to be a doctor, lawyer, my job is to give them the tools for that.”

Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org said funding for the program came from Chevron stations around Richmond. For every fill-up – defined as eight gallons or more — Chevron donates one dollar to a nearby classroom project.

“The requirement is that dollars raised by Fuel Your School stay within the city, so if a station is in Richmond, we make sure that the one dollar per fill-up stays in Richmond,” Best said.

Best said they are confident that at least $1 million will be raised for Contra Costa and Alameda counties and $5 million across all nine of the participating Chevron markets for the 2012-2013 school year.

Awards are given based on order of date submitted.

“You can think about it as first-come first-serve for participating teachers,” Best said.

Best used to be a teacher in the Bronx in New York but has now moved to DonorsChoose.org full time.

This year so far, the Fuel Your School program has funded 15 projects in the West Contra Costa Unified School District, which represents 12 schools. It has funded 351 projects in the Alameda and Contra Costa counties. In total, DonorsChoose.org has funded 1,318 projects in the West Contra Costa County Unified School District.

Best spoke to class before the school supplies were presented, and thanked the students for paying attention to him.

“You’re welcome,” said one of the students.

“Who said you’re welcome?” Best replied. “That was good, thank you for responding.”

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