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Crowdfunding sites are raising record amounts of money for schools

In teacher Jeremy Taylor's fifth-grade classroom in Union City, California., students are using tablets to write computer code that programs digital balls, called "Spheros," to move.

Most classrooms rely on funding from school districts to purchase high-tech items like these, but Taylor has taken a different approach: crowdfunding.

"It's more efficient," he says. "I can get an idea and have it in the classroom within a month, instead of waiting for district approval and seeing if the budget has enough money."

As students across the country go back to school, their teachers are increasingly turning to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe.com and DonorsChoose.org to pay for extra classroom expenses and ease the burden on teachers and school districts alike.

In its last fiscal year, DonorsChoose.org, which focuses solely on education projects, says it raised more than $100 million. GoFundMe.com, which is a general crowdfunding site, raised $60 million in the last 12 months, with education as its fastest-growing category.

Taylor says crowdfunding has allowed him to "dream big" inside his classroom.

"I'm no longer limited to textbooks. I can go 'Oh, a 3-D printer? I wonder what that would look like in the classroom?'" Taylor says. "It has really changed the dynamic of what the kids see as possible."

DonorsChoose.org says that they are partnering with companies like Chevron, Tom's of Maine and Target as they kick off their back-to-school campaign.