Helping teachers give their students 100% all the way!
By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
For the students of SMK Lutong at Miri, every science class felt like a competition to secure a stool as sometimes up to three classes would be conducted simultaneously.
For Cikgu Calvin Tan Han Jin who teaches Form 1 and 2 Science, he felt that the school labs were not conducive areas for learning as those who failed to secure a seat would have to forage for extras at the senior labs in another block, taking a huge amount of time away from his lessons.
As the stools in the lab were short and made of plastic, they had become flimsy and brittle from years of usage. Smaller students would have to stack them, often mismatched so that they could be seated at a comfortable height. Because of this, some of the students had fallen off their seats, posing a safety risk for them.
Upon hearing of 100% Project, Calvin decided to raise funds for new lab stools in three of his Science labs. Initially nervous on whether he would succeed to raise RM7,500, he managed to successfully raise the full amount in a month thanks to generous donors from Malaysia and abroad, many who chose to remain anonymous.
Overwhelmed and extremely grateful for the support of the donors for his project, Calvin will inscribe each stool with their names in honour of their contribution.
How it all started
“The idea came about when we realised that it was very common for teachers in public schools to use their own money to buy teaching aid and tools for their classes. On the flip-side, as a fundraiser, I also noticed that a lot of people want to give directly to projects. We put two and two together and decided to build a platform to bridge that gap,” said Amelia Tan, one of the co-founders of 100% Project.
Based on the crowdfunding concept, 100% project applied it to classroom projects whereby they find passionate teachers who require funds to improve their classrooms, organise field trips or implement innovative teaching ideas.
“We then engage the public and connect them to these teachers, so we all can get a chance to contribute to the teachers’ efforts to provide the best learning experience for their kids,” said Amelia.
Made up of three co-founders – Andrew Yong (Web Design and Development), Karthik Karunanithy (Programme and Impact Delivery) and Amelia (Partnerships and Community Engagement)- who are all linked to Teach For Malaysia (TFM), 100% Project is a crowdfunding platform that helps remove the barriers that teachers face to provide their students the best learning experience by allowing members of the public to discover and directly support impactful classroom projects from all over Malaysia.
“The idea for 100% Project started in May 2015 where we submitted our application to the Malaysia Global Innovation Centre (MaGIC)’s Accelerator Programme (MAP). After four months of being in the programme, we launched our beta platform and our first fundraising cycle in October 2015,” said Amelia.
Before they launched 100% Project, part of Amelia’s job with TFM included making school visits where she noticed that many classrooms were in poor condition; getting funds for classrooms or school projects was difficult and teachers were spending their own money to buy teaching materials and tools.
She recounted these visits to Andrew and he suggested building a platform to have their story told.
”We have always believed that people were ready to help – they just don’t hear about these teachers and have no easy way to contribute,” said Amelia.
Having launched their pilot fundraising effort in October last year, 100% Project started with 11 projects in which all were successfully funded within a month.
How it works
Currently, only public school teachers are eligible to submit projects on the platform as 100% Project has a strict process to uphold transparency and accountability of the project owners like ensuring funds are only disbursed to the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) to prevent its misuse.
However, for those who would like to help get funding for their schools, they can introduce 100% Project to the school and work with a teacher and the school’s PTA to put up a campaign for a classroom project.
Under the platform, teachers can help raise funds under three categories of projects: conducive learning to ensure students can learn in a comfortable environment, innovative teaching so students are taught in the most engaging way and exposure and exploration in the form of learning field trips.
“In our vetting process we ensure that teachers are able to clearly define the problem in their classroom/school/community and are able to confidently justify why they think their project is the appropriate solution for it.”
“As for the targeted funds, we always advise our teachers to set a minimum bar to ensure their projects gets funded. However, some teachers have a strong network and are more confident that they are able to raise a larger amount to take their project to the next level and we sometimes allow this based on the type of project and at the team’s discretion,” said Amelia.
As it is a crowdfunding platform, donors are entitled to different types of rewards such as thank you notes, drawings from the students or even an invitation to visit the school, depending on the amount of contributions they have made.
“As 100% Project is a social enterprise, we have recently introduced an optional 15% service fee that contributors can opt-in on top of their contribution to help us sustain our platform. This service fee goes into the vetting of teacher projects, impact tracking and reporting, maintenance of website and others,” added Amelia.
Transparency is everything
Noting that public trust is vital, 100% of the donor contribution will go directly to the projects and every disbursement to their projects will be open for public review in their Transparency Document where anyone can see every transaction receipt out of their accounts to the project recipients.
Before any project is approved, a team will vet the teachers, their projects and also the budgets.
“After the projects are funded we’ll be tracking their execution and reporting of their impact on the students. Ultimately, we want to keep the quality of teachers and projects high – this is a non-negotiable criteria – even as we plan to grow our platform quickly. We also take steps to make sure the funds are not misused by others and we ensure this by only disbursing the funds to the school’s Parent Teacher Association so that there’s transparency and accountability within and from the school’s community,” said Amelia.
Besides getting the school’s PTA involved in the campaign to ensure accountability of the execution of the project, the team would also keep close contact with the project owners where they are required to give progress updates, expenditure reports and pictures of the completed projects.
Should the project fail to be funded on time, the teachers may apply for an extension of time for campaigning.
“The teacher may be able to reapply for the same project depending on the situation however, this will all be at the discretion of the team,” said Amelia.
As of now, 100% Project has launched their second cycle featuring 19 projects from all over Malaysia with six classroom projects from Sarawak and four from Sabah, where one classroom project from both Sarawak and Sabah has been successfully funded.
“The projects from Sarawak and Sabah are usually conducive learning and innovative teaching projects. Most teachers are requesting funds for teaching tools and infrastructure, like furniture and fittings. Others are fundraising for innovative teaching ideas to engage their students in learning through creative ways,” explained Amelia.
To date, the highest amount raised has been Calvin’s project which was used to raise funds for wooden stools.
Now 100% Project is currently fundraising for new desks and chairs for SK Assunta 1 and 2 which are looking into raising RM160,000. So far, they have raised close to RM30,000 due to strong alumni support. If they reach their target, it will be the platform’s largest successful campaign.