Stamford’s Westhill High School Leads Network in Innovation Fund Earnings

By Rickeena Holloway, Network Facilitator

Westhill High School may be new to the RISE Network this year but educators in Viking Country have already secured a top spot in the network by earning more than $37,000 in materials and supplies for students through DonorsChoose projects matched by the RISE Educator Innovation Fund

Going into the holiday break, Westhill educators had already posted 65 projects since July 1, 2019, pursuing creative ideas to engage and support their students in innovative ways. As members of the RISE Network, Westhill educators can post an unlimited number of projects on Donors Choose and are eligible for a dollar-for-dollar match offer from Dalio Philanthropies and the RISE Educator Innovation Fund. This allows educators to get the resources they need for their students in half the time it would take to raise the full project amount. 

The Westhill team not only leads the network in the amount raised in DonorsChoose projects, it also stands out in terms of educator engagement.  A total of 35 educators have posted more than 65 projects since July, with 45 of those projects having already earned full funding. Of those 35 educators, 20 were first-time users of the Donors Choose platform

More than one-third of Westhill’s fully funded projects were for computers, tablets or other instructional technology. Dr. Jennifer Migiano, for example, is a chemistry teacher at Westhill, and she has raised more money from DonorsChoose projects than any other educator on campus. She has earned more than $3,600 in laptops that allow her students to do lab simulations. So far, Migiano has earned six laptops from two separate projects, and she expects another three laptops from a live project that has already received 72 percent of the funding requested. 

Dr. Migiano explained that prior to Westhill’s partnership with the RISE Network, she would have thought her goal of providing each of her 12 lab groups with a laptop was an unattainable dream. Now, she is more than halfway toward achieving her goal. 

“…With the looming possibility of moving to a new school facility next year, and there being no lab resources when this occurs, I decided this was the year to try and obtain laptops, especially with the RISE Network’s matching funds,” Migiano said. “What has transpired thus far has me feeling blessed.  We have six computers in the classroom (one for each lab bench) and three more computers mostly funded. The feeling of being blessed was compounded on the morning of Christmas Eve when I learned that RISE flash funded the current project with $50. We are over halfway to our goal of one computer per lab group. Wow!”