This is an excerpt of On Assignment, education writer Theresa Harrington's blog on Contra Costa County schools. Read more and post comments at IBAbuzz.com/onassignment. Follow her at Twitter.com/tunedtotheresa.

Nov. 19

DonorsChoose.org is a cool website that allows members of the community to support projects in local schools that are posted by teachers who can't afford to buy all the supplies necessary to implement them.

But time is running out for teachers to post their projects. The deadline is Nov. 30.

Here is more (excerpted) information about how the website began, from founder Charles Best:

"Fueling Your School Fuels the Economy

During my career as a teacher, I saw firsthand that all schools are not created equal.

My colleagues and I spent a lot of our own money on copy paper and pencils, but we often couldn't afford the resources that would get our students excited about learning. We'd talk about books our students should read, a field trip we wanted to take, or a microscope that would bring science to life.

I figured there were people out there who want to help our students, if they could see where their money was going. So, using a pencil and paper, I drew a website where teachers could post classroom project requests and donors could choose a project they wanted to support.

Twelve years later, our website has channeled educational materials to 7 million students, the majority from low-income communities and many of whom are learning English as a second language. Our site has connected more than 800,000 donors and will help bring more than $40 million in resources to classrooms this school year. This support is helping to offset the more than $1.3 billion teachers spend on their classrooms nationwide [1].

We're proud of the calculators, microscopes and books that we've delivered but there's still a lot of work to be done, especially in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

While roughly 75 percent of our nation's high school students are not proficient in mathematics when they complete 12th grade, [2] the U.S. Dept. of Labor projects that 15 of the 20 fastest growing occupations in 2014 will require math or science to successfully compete for those jobs. To keep large industries competitive here in the Bay Area, we need to ensure that our students have the skills to be successful in the occupations of the future. School budgets are tight. Many teachers, without dipping into their own wallet, do not have access to materials that are critical to improving interest in STEM education and that bring difficult concepts to life.

It's going to take a lot to strengthen teaching models in STEM education and Chevron has been a champion for STEM education and teachers for quite some time. Since 2009, they have supported more than 500,000 students with DonorsChoose.org.

This year alone Fuel Your School, an innovative collaboration between Chevron and DonorsChoose.org, has funded more than 800 classroom projects across 329 local schools in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. For every purchase of eight or more gallons of fuel at a local Chevron or Texaco station in October, Chevron contributed $1, up to a total contribution of $1 million, to fund eligible public school classroom projects posted by local teachers.

Through Chevron's Fuel Your School program, Ms. Townsend Bryson of Peres Elementary in Richmond received hands-on science materials, which allows her to teach students about space, natural resources and the unseen concepts that explain how our world works.

You can make an impact too ... Right now, we have the opportunity to help more students get the materials they need for a great education and to prepare them for the STEM careers of the future ...

[1] According to the National School Supply and Equipment Association

[2] National Assessment of Educational Progress"

The DonorsChoose.org website allows you to enter your Zip code to find projects near you. For example, when I entered 94598 (Walnut Creek), 10 project descriptions popped up that would help students in low and medium poverty areas of Walnut Creek, as well as in high poverty areas of Concord. The site shows how much money has been donated so far and how much more is needed.