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Dec 05

The Transition from Teacher to EdTech Entrepreneur

Posted by Bank Street in The Alumni Blog on Dec 05, 2017

Post Submitted by Alumnus Nathan Spevack '11

I spent five years teaching in New York City and although the experience was satisfying on an individual basis, especially when parents would tell me how their children’s attitudes toward particular subjects changed because of my class, I found myself wanting to do more… to have an impact in the larger education space. At the time I had started and joined several after school programs that required fundraising to provide the best experiences for students. We’ve all been involved in traditional fundraisers (selling cookie dough, wrapping paper, etc.) at one point or another and everyone I’ve spoken to about them hate the experience. I’m no different. People don’t want to buy products, they’d rather just donate directly to the school or program it supports - not to mention the hassle and time spent organizing it, collecting funds, communicating about the fundraiser to the parent body, etc. During just such a fundraising experience, it hit me. All schools, classrooms, clubs, and teams need to fundraise. That could be how I make an impact on a bigger scale. I soon found myself involved in New York’s vibrant Edtech startup scene and discovered a company called Edco. Edco is an online fundraising platform whose mission is to support K-12 education by helping close the funding gap for high quality educational programs. Knowing that schools, classrooms, clubs, and teams are always looking for more money, I knew that Edco could very well be the way that I make an impact in the world of education.

So I applied for a job at Edco and am now Edco’s Manager of Strategic Partnerships. I’m in a position where I can help millions of students engage in the activities they are most passionate about by ensuring they have the funding needed to do so. Moreover, I am helping schools raise money for essential personnel and equipment so that students get the education they need and deserve.

Here’s one example… With the help of a local entrepreneur who is personally invested in helping his community, I was introduced to the Principal of Jonas Salk Elementary School (Mira Mesa, San Diego). Together we executed a school-wide fundraiser last spring that lasted for six weeks. We had very little time to plan this particular fundraiser, but we ended up raising roughly $15,000 to help pay for Project Lead the Way. Click here to learn more about how we did it. We’re actually helping JSES with another fundraiser right now. They need $30,000 to provide shade on their playground since there is no shade at all currently. The lack of shade is a potential safety hazard for students in sunny San Diego. At the time of the writing of this blog post, JSES has had their fundraiser live for just over two weeks and have already raised over $6,000! What we’re finding is something we’ve known all along; if there is a school in need, the community will rally to support it if they are asked.

Here’s another bit of truth we all know. It takes a ton of resources to run a classroom and there are a lot of free resources out there. Yet even with all of the free resources available, teachers routinely dip into their own wallets to pay for supplies. Two-thirds of all classroom supplies are purchased by teachers and it’s no secret that teachers are paid a modest salary. On average teachers spend nearly $600 a year of their own money on classroom supplies (Education Week). If the newest Republican-backed tax bill becomes law, all the money teachers spend out of their own pocket will no longer be tax-deductible. Taking away this deduction will impact their take-home pay even more.

This is where I can make a difference. Regardless of what happens with tax reform, I’ll keep helping educators, parents, coaches, and schools raise the funds they need for their children’s education. I can also assure you that Edco will continue to provide an online platform to raise those funds quickly and all donations will be tax-deductible.

It’s amazing to look back and see how I’ve moved from helping individuals to helping entire schools. Edco is making a difference in schools and teams across the country and I couldn’t be more happy or proud to be part of it.

Here are some fundraising tips for team and school-wide fundraisers. If anyone is interested in learning more about online fundraising, Edco, or how I can help you, your team, or your school fundraise, please reach out to me. Email me at or call my office - 212-299-0378.
tagged edco, fundraising, nathan, spevack, teaching
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