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Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

September 16, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Google flash-funds ‘Ukuleles Unite!,’ other teacher projects

Amanda Burke (left), a kindergarten teacher at Highland Park Elementary in Seattle, was one of several local teachers surprised by Google on Monday. Photo courtesy Google.

Amanda Burke (left), a kindergarten teacher at Highland Park Elementary in Seattle, was one of several local teachers surprised by Google on Monday. Photo courtesy Google.

Music teacher Yvonne Berz got her wish Monday: a classroom set of ukuleles for her students at Springbrook Elementary School in the Kent School District.

It was one of 388 projects that Google fully funded or topped off on Monday in a “flash funding” campaign for teachers in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

For Berz, Google added to 16 other donors who contributed to her proposal, titled Ukuleles Unite!” though the nonprofit crowd-sourcing website, DonorsChoose.org, where teachers can seek funding for specific learning projects.

Google’s $338,000 donation helped teachers buy supplies ranging from books, laptops and Legos to yoga mats, acoustic guitars and a digital microscope.

A kindergarten teacher at Highland Park Elementary School in Seattle, for example, asked for four HP Chromebook laptop computers and a Microsoft Surface tablet. A teacher at Lowell Elementary School in Everett asked for mapmaking supplies.

Google has sponsored other DonorsChoose “flash funding” campaigns in recent months in San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Austin, Kansas City and Los Angeles.

Google is among several corporations and foundations that have supported DonorsChoose.

But support also comes from individuals near and far.

Berz asked for a set of 30 Diamond Head DU-150 Soprano Ukuleles (Mahogany), which cost $38.77 each on Amazon, according to her request.

“At the end of this school year, I would love to see my students able to proudly share their abilities on the ukulele with their families and other teachers in a performance setting,” she wrote in her pitch.

She quickly found supporters from New Mexico, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana.

One donor wrote: “I have a daughter in music education and I realize how hard it is to get funding for things that are a little different than the mainstream.”

A California donor wrote: “Ukuleles ROCK!”

Berz responded: “Yes, they do!! Thank you!”

One donor took a swipe at recorders, the first instrument many students pick up.

“Because recorders are lame. I wish my elementary music teachers taught me to play the ukulele.”

Berz was grateful for the contribution, but defended the humble recorder.

“Hey, recorders are cool too! Thank you!!!!”

Two donors from Kent wrote: “Everyone in our family plays ukulele. We are happy to share this lovely instrument with your students.”

Comments | More in News | Topics: DonorsChoose.org, Google

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