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Staff photo by Doug Strickland / Jamirria Eldridge works on an assignment on a Chromebook during an ACT preparation class for juniors at The Howard School on Wednesday. Teacher Ashley Cox is raising funds for extra Chromebooks through DonorsChoose.

Crowdfunding, where have you been all our lives for Hamilton County schools?

Teacher Ashley Cox needed help with funding to buy four Chromebooks to use in her 11-grade ACT preparation class at The Howard School.

You read about her need in Tuesday's Chattanooga Times Free Press by Meghan Mangrum. Cox had posted her "project" and request for funding on DonorsChoose.org, a crowd-sourced fundraising site that is part of a larger campaign partnership between Hamilton County Schools and the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga.

By about 9 a.m. Tuesday, her request for $804 was fully funded by six donors.

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Teachers from all of Hamilton County's Opportunity Zone schools now are invited to submit a project to the campaign. All donations gathered on the website will be matched by the Community Foundation through a $10,000 donation.

"The DonorsChoose platform makes it easy for anyone to support a classroom in need, helping to ensure that all students have the tools and experiences they need for a great education," said Maeghan Jones, Community Foundation president.

With the $10,000 matching grant, Jones said, "We hope to jump-start the effort to utilize DonorsChoose as a tool to rally community support for our teachers and students demonstrating, once again, how collectively we can achieve so much more than we can working alone."

Like many educators, Hamilton County's teachers spend hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets, said John Cunningham, community schools coordinator here and one of the project's organizers. At Howard, Cox receives $200 a year for classroom supplies, but those funds are quickly eaten up by staples such as notebook paper, pencils and pens. Some teachers buy snacks for their students or extra copies of books for lessons.

The DonorsChoose projects vary from school to school. An Orchard Knob Middle School teacher is asking for stability balls and a rocking chair for flexible seating for her active students; a teacher at Clifton Hills Elementary hopes for supplies for math activities; and various classrooms need more books for their libraries.

It's a great opportunity for community support, so stop feeling helpless and hopeless about Hamilton County's neediest schools. Go to DonorsChoose.org and find a classroom to help.

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