• Crowdfunding website used to raise money for school's outdoor classroom


    DEKALB COUNTY - A DeKalb County elementary school just found out its campus is getting a $100,000 makeover and taxpayers might be interested to know the county is not paying for any of it.

    Ashford Park Elementary has a large area for its playground. The idea was to transform an unused, wooded area near the playground into an outdoor classroom, amphitheater and a new covered carpool area.  The plans had been in the works for years, but the problem was how to pay for it.

    “Obviously with DeKalb County budget issues there's a lot of gaps that need to be filled,” said Shawn Keefe with the Ashford Park Education Foundation. “We have a school here that was built in 1955. It's very weathered.”

    Keefe found Mark Feinberg of Uruut: a new Atlanta-based crowdfunding website.

    Through Uruut, in just 90 days, the school foundation raised $100,000 from private community donations.

    Asked if the money had not been raised, Fienberg said it “Doesn't happen. Project doesn't happen. It just sits there nice pretty pictures but nothing happens.”

    Unlike other crowd funders, half of the money for the outdoor classroom came from businesses and foundations.

    “It's important for the private sector to get involved because the public sector doesn't have all the money we need to do all the great things that we want to do at the community level,” Feinberg said.

    Students said they are already looking forward to the new plans.

    Uruut is working with other groups to create dog parks, bike paths and after-school programs. Ashford Park is hoping to break ground before the end of the year.

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