It’s an open secret. In public schools struggling to provide even the most basic necessities for their students, concerned teachers have long felt compelled to step in to make up the difference. Paying from their own pockets for school/art/wellness supplies for underserved children. Spending their weekends chasing opportunities to supplement woefully inadequate school resources. Beseeching potential donors and funding organizations to recognize and address the challenges they see in their classrooms day after day, year after year.
This is the frustrating reality that inspired Charles Best, a Bronx public high school history teacher, to start DonorsChoose.org in 2000.
Making new connections
DonorsChoose.org empowers teachers with great ideas and a deep understanding of their students’ needs to join forces with small donors interested in making a large impact through thoughtful giving.
The key is access. Through the DonorsChoose.org website, teachers in remote rural towns and inner city neighborhoods have the ability to reach a vastly expanded audience for their ideas and initiatives. And small donors have the power to direct tangible, targeted help to classroom projects that inspire and move them – whether ambitious or modest, local or far-flung.
So a graphic artist in New York City can supply budding artists in an isolated Alaska elementary school with paints, brushes and aprons for the joyfully messy art projects that will brighten their long winter days.
A retired private school teacher can leverage his experience to identify and support STEM initiatives that level the playing field in science, technology, engineering and math for underserved youth in public high schools.
A successful entrepreneur who grew up in poverty can make sure that children living in dire circumstances can count on a decent meal when they come to school and a backpack filled with nutritious supplies to carry them through the weekend.
A powerful new force
These highly personal, deeply influential connections are what have set DonorsChoose.org apart – and fueled its remarkable success. From fewer than a dozen initial classroom projects in 2000, DonorsChoose.org has grown into an education powerhouse. To date, millions of civilian donors have logged on and ponied up – contributing nearly $600 million toward a breathtaking array of classroom initiatives in public schools around the country.
The process is simple and transparent. DonorsChoose.org verifies the integrity of each teacher request and posts a description of the project and funding deadline on their website. Potential donors can browse the easy-to-navigate site for projects that meet a wide variety of search criteria, from grade levels and school locations, to subject areas and current funding levels. They can support any project with a donation of any amount up to the remaining balance on the request.
When a project is fully funded, DonorsChoose.org buys and ships the requested items directly to the classroom. The impact – and the response – is immediate. Teachers follow up with donors with thank-you letters and photos from the classroom. Every donor has the satisfaction of knowing precisely how his or her donation was spent.
Every opportunity for every child
From kindergarten story times to high school chemistry experiments, projects funded through DonorsChoose.org have improved educational opportunities and outcomes for tens of millions of students. By the organization’s own reckoning, that’s just the beginning.
DonorsChoose.org has set itself the brazen goal of ensuring that every child in every public school in every corner of our country has the tools and support they need to succeed. By giving teachers an efficient, effective alternative to the bureaucratic logjams and budgetary restrictions that plague so many public schools. By providing a uniquely transparent platform that “opens the door” to donors eager to share the challenges and joys of educating the next generation. By working tirelessly to improve education – one teacher, one donor, one classroom at a time.
To learn more about how you can help DonorsChoose.org direct tangible, targeted help to the front lines of education, visit www.donorschoose.org
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