Former classroom teacher turned Instagram educator, Sharon McMahon (@sharonsaysso), has done it again.
McMahon is known for leading major fundraising efforts with her digital community — over 966,000 ‘Governerds,’ named for their participation in McMahon’s digital social studies classroom. Within the first weekend, the community had raised over $1.1 million to support teachers across the country.
The funds will go directly to teachers in the form of over 2,000 grants, each worth $500.
More than 17,500 teachers have applied for these grants, and McMahon shared on Instagram that donations would stay open for another week to get more money directly into the hands of teachers.
As of time-of-publication on July 22nd, the final day to donate, Governerds had raised more than $1,264,016.
Why does Sharon McMahon offer teacher grants?
Last year, McMahon opened her teacher grant program and raised over $560,000 with her digital community. Her goal this year was to reach $1 million in funding to give back to teachers from every corner of the U.S.
“Clear the list initiatives are great, and I support them. But sometimes teachers need things you can’t get on Amazon,” McMahon shared on her Instagram stories.
“Sometimes teachers need food and hygiene products for their students. They need curriculum items you can’t get on Amazon. They need materials schools aren’t providing.”
As a former teacher, McMahon shared how difficult the profession was and empathized with the current education crisis in America, where a Gallup poll showed that teachers are the most burned-out employees in the country.
This burnout — caused by political vitriol, COVID-19, lack of pay and resources, and increased workplace demands — has led to a historic teacher shortage.
"If a person comes to the ER with a gaping abdominal wound and also heart disease, first we must address the abdominal wound. The patient has to live through the night to have heart surgery down the road.
We have to try to keep teachers in classrooms this year — and also work to address the systemic issues."
Although the solution to this major cultural issue is to tackle it at the root with sweeping systemic changes, McMahon knows that, in crisis, the first thing she can do is mobilize her community.
“If I could fix 50+ educational systems here on Instagram before the start of school, I would,” McMahon shared on Instagram.
“If a person comes to the ER with a gaping abdominal wound and also heart disease, first we must address the abdominal wound. The patient has to live through the night to have heart surgery down the road. We have to try to keep teachers in classrooms this year — and also work to address the systemic issues.”
The grants are designed for teachers to use however they please — on classroom supplies, health items, food staples, and more.
One teacher who received a grant from McMahon commented on Instagram, expressing gratitude for the initiative.
“I received a grant last year, and it came at a time when I was suffocating, and I needed help,” the commenter writes. “I needed materials, and I needed a community to support me. Governerds were there for me. Love this corner of the Internet, and thanks @sharonsaysso for being in our corner, backing us up, and saying what so many of us teachers are afraid to.”
What other fundraising efforts have @sharonsaysso and the Governerds been a part of?
Besides this enormous fundraising effort, McMahon and the Governerds have raised millions for other causes. Prior to this year’s teacher grant initiative, the community raised over $560,00 to pay off medical debt for 74,474 people, and supported relief efforts in Ukraine, donating more than $600,000 to World Central Kitchen and CARE.
McMahon collects contributions via PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App, creating ease for donors. She shares transparent documentation of the accumulation of funds, and encourages people to give what they can — whether that’s 50 cents or $1,000.
How can you make a difference for teachers?
Just like Sharon, we can all do what we can with what we have to help others. You can start by following Sharon McMahon on Instagram (@sharonsaysso) and keep an eye out for future Governerd fundraisers on her platform.
You can also independently support teachers in your own communities by donating to organizations like Donors Choose, Classful, Fund for Teachers, or the NEA Foundation.
You can also read more good news stories about education — and support the organizations and efforts that inspire you.