DonorsChoose Funding Teacher Spotlight — Carrie Rugenstein

We love sharing creative ways that teachers secure funding for Budget Challenge. Teachers who have earned the appropriate number of points with DonorsChoose can request a Special Project.

Carrie Rugenstein, a math teacher at Lincoln High School in Owosso, MI recently shared how she was able to secure funding for Budget Challenge with the help of DonorsChoose and a community sponsor. 

What is your favorite Budget Challenge feature? 

My favorite Budget Challenge feature as a teacher is the curriculum. As a teacher this helps me to plan my classroom activities to enhance their simulation experience.

What made you decide to reach out to DonorsChoose regarding funding?  

I reached out to DonorsChoose for funding because it is always accessible, and you can modify a project to whatever need you have. Grants are often specific and time sensitive.

How long did the process take to secure that funding for your students to participate in Budget Challenge? 

I was fortunate that it took less than a week from writing my project to fully funding my class for the Budget Challenge.  I took advantage of a matching donor offer and reached out to community members in finance professions to see if they would be willing to donate.  The community came through very quickly.

DonorsChoose only allows a teacher to do a "Special Project" after they have earned 6 points.  You earn points by creating and having projects funded.  At the time of this project I had successfully posted and had two projects funded, so I did not qualify.  If a teacher does not have 6 points, they can always reach out to DonorsChoose.  I was not going to give up doing the Budget Challenge with my students this year, so I e-mailed DonorsChoose to see what could be done.  After explaining the Budget Challenge and how this program benefits students, DonorsChoose made an exception and allowed me to create a "Special Project."  This essentially means a project with a vendor not listed on the DonorsChoose site.

I was fortunate to post this project at a time where financial literacy projects were having funds matched and a local community member, David Hood from Stifel Financial was generous and provided all of the funding we needed.  Once I was fully funded, I furnished DonorsChoose with an invoice from Budget Challenge and they submitted a payment for my class.  We are now registering and doing our vendor selections for the simulation starting September 24th. 

What lesson in Budget Challenge sticks out as the most memorable for your students?  

The lesson in Budget Challenge that sticks out as the most memorable for me is a tie between unexpected events and data protection.  These two subjects were not previously part of my Senior Math class and have proven to be a topic that students know very little about and need to know. 

Note: DonorsChoose is a nonprofit website that helps public school teachers get funding for materials and experiences that will help their students learn.