DonorsChoose: You Can Choose to Help Students Learn

Take yourself back. All the way back – to when you were in school.

It’s after recess, you’re sitting at your desk watching your classmates getting excited about the paper-mache project you and your peers will be spending the afternoon working on. You’re enthused as well, but unlike the rest, you’re containing yourself. You know what you’re going to create, and it’s going to be awesome.

The teacher walks in and she has an announcement. “Class, due to budget cuts and lack of funding, the principal has decided that we will not be buying any supplies this year and unfortunately, that means no glue. So unfortunately our craft session will have to be cancelled. We can spend the rest of the day learning art history instead”

I apologize to the people who love art history (I’m one of them) but I was really looking forward to making a paper-mache light saber!

More and more, situations like these are become the norm in modern day classrooms. Children constantly have to learn without proper books, lab tools, computers music equipment, art supplies…and the list goes on.

Governments have their priorities, and sadly education suffers in the process. Our children’s teachers are left with picking up the slack.

Charles Best

Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org

One such teacher was Charles Best. Then, a social studies teacher, he felt that people would like to help these distressed schools out. So in 2000, he created DonorsChoose.org so that parents and individuals could connect directly with classrooms in America.

DonorsChoose.org functions very much like other micro-giving sites (Kiva and Kickstarter), however their focus is solely on education. Requests range from pencils for a poetry writing unit, to violins for a school recital, to microscope slides for a biology class.

DonorsChoose logo

How it works is simple:

  1. You give money to a classroom project (of your liking)
  2. Once the project reaches its required sum, DonorsChoose.org purchases and delivers the materials to a class.
  3. Kids learn. Then send you back photos and thank-you messages.

If you’ve funded a project and it doesn’t reach its goal, no worries. You will have the option of using your donation to fund another assignment.

To see how DonorsChoose.org impacts students, check out this 8 minute documentary:

DonorsChoose.org operates transparently and measures their impact daily. To date (October 6th), they have raised over $60 million and helped more than 3.6 million students in public school across the United States.

And this impressive impact has led to the website being covered by The New York Times, Time Magazine, CNN and even Oprah Winfrey.

So with their structure in place, DonorsChoose.org is empowering teachers to become change-makers and continue on with their projects despite the cut-backs to public schools. But just as importantly, it’s allowing us to give to students and helps us create a community where each one of them have the resources they need to learn.

Ways you can help

  1. Donate directly to a classroom project you’re interested in and that could use your help.
  2. If you feel like stepping it up a notch, DonorsChoose.org also allows you to create a “giving page”. This is your own page, where you hand pick the projects you’re passionate about. You can see the impact of all your contributions and also urge your friends to support them.
  3. Buy stuff (bags, shirts, sweatshirts, posters, stickers, buttons and mugs) through their online store. By purchasing DonorsChoose.org merchandise, you are not only helping the organization financially, but also spreading awareness of the website when you’re seen by others.

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