Bobby Moore, a fifth-grade teacher at Furman L. Templeton Preparatory Academy in Upton has plenty of students like one he’ll call “Angel.” Angel, a fourth-grader, reads and does math at a seventh-grade level.
“Unfortunately, no one really knows Angel’s potential or talent outside of that five-block radius,” Moore said. “So I wanted to create a platform where the people who intimately know their needs and their interests — their teachers — can help them create a profile that includes a biography, a teacher recommendation, an academic biography.”
The idea is find educational products or services that truly align with a student’s needs or interests. Moore is pursuing a new nonprofit that uses the internet to reach beyond those five blocks.
SOAR Baltimore (SOAR stands for “Student Opportunities and Academic Resources”) is nearly off the ground, with most of the funds ($33,000) raised and just $10,000 left to raise by the end of January, in time for the website’s full launch. It entered its beta this month with 10-12 students.
Think of it this way: It’s like DonorsChoose.org, only instead of picking which classes or teachers’ purchases to support, you can think much more small-scale, like an activity or book or device to support one high-achieving student.
“DonorsChoose is just funding a classroom need,” Moore said. “It’s not necessarily showcasing or highlighting the potential of the students in that classroom.”
And in Baltimore, many of those students could use the help.
“Where our model is unique is we empower teachers to become teacher-advocates for their students,” Moore said.
Moore, a 26-year-old hailing from Charles Village, first came to Templeton several years ago with Teach for America, but said he sees SOAR as his true calling. The beta began this month with about a dozen students and five teachers at Templeton, Green Street Academy, Renaissance Academy, Patterson Park Public Charter School and Liberty Elementary School, all in Baltimore.
In addition to the donor support, Moore got discounted web design services from The Canton Group, which had been looking for a charitable outlet like his.
Teachers register using their school system email, and older students (in eighth- through 12th-grade) can go online and link up with their teacher’s account. In that case, teachers approve what the student claims to need (that is, a student can’t solicit donations to fund a PlayStation 4 for “research purposes”). For younger students, the teacher is more hands-on, working with students to register their profiles. Teachers can also independently advocate on the site to fund tools for a particular student.
Want to learn more about supporting SOAR? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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