ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque students are getting hands-on in their classrooms, thanks to money from the community. The project is part of the district’s new initiative: the APS 180 Challenge.
Teachers sometimes struggle with creating new, interactive projects on limited budgets. Albuquerque Public Schools is working to change that, launching community fundraising to cover the costs of making these projects possible.
“The 180 Challenge was our first time to launch here at APS. It was just kind of one of those brainstorm ideas that came about on like a Thursday morning,” said Shannon Barnhill, Executive Director of the APS Education Foundation. “We just accomplished 180 days of school and it was a good school year. Why not celebrate that by giving an opportunity to the community to support our teachers for their next school year.”
The money raised through the 180 Challenge is then broken down into grants for teachers and departments to use on these innovative projects. APS just finished taking applications for these grants and are reviewing 107 different projects. They say these can range from ways to get students reading to hands-on STEM or STEAM labs to teach things like science and math.
“Some of them that are really amazing are always when they apply for STEM labs,” said Barnhill. “It’s an opportunity for students to go into a lab that is kind of hands-on. They’re kind of set up a bit like mini Explora museums.”
She says it’s inspiring to see the innovation of educators and how they make it work for their students.
“Those are the things that really make us excited because they’re innovative but yet gives the teachers a chance to educate the students without the traditional budget to spend on those opportunities,” said Barnhill.
In just one week, APS raised around $3,800 to fund new classroom projects for the school year. They plan to bring the project back next summer after the 2019-20 school year.
“180 Challenge was so successful, we look forward to doing it again after this 180 days of school is completed and we just look forward to evolving and making it bigger and better and the impact just growing so our students really succeed,” said Barnhill. “We are so grateful for our community who completely embraces these things such as the 180 Challenge when we bring that to them and they actually look at it and say, ‘yes, I want to be a part of this,’ and, ‘yes, I want to provide an opportunity for our students to be engaged.'”
The district hopes to get at least 180 donors in their next challenge to go with those 180 days of school. The next challenge will likely launch in June 2020. In the meantime, those who wish to donate to classroom projects can do so online through the APS Education Foundation.