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DonorsChoose.org, an award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, provides an easy way for everyday people to make a difference in public schools. Teachers across the U.S. post ideas for classroom projects on our website. The projects range from basic supplies like pencils and paper, to microscopes and books, to things as specific as checks-and-balance workbooks, personal finance videos designed for kids, and calculators to use in understanding interest rates. Then, individuals find projects by areas of interest (like financial literacy!), and choose to fund the projects they find most compelling. Our donors receive a thank-you package consisting of: student photographs and notes, a teacher impact letter, and an expenditure report showing that their gift was spent as directed.
Each year, K-8 teachers spend more than a billion dollars of their own money on classroom materials. On average, teachers spend $520 out of pocket (new teachers spend $720) – numbers that are even higher in our poorer urban communities. Studies show that 40% of teachers report they don't have enough books for all of their students. More than half of all teachers say that their students are exposed to incorrect information in outdated textbooks. Teachers, even those in programs such as Teach For America, are having to find ways to raise money, pay out of pocket for supplies, or go without critical learning materials in the classroom.
Our solution: What makes us unique
The mission of DonorsChoose.org is to improve public education by engaging citizens in an online marketplace: Teachers describe what their students need, and citizen philanthropists fund specific student projects. We envision a nation in which students in every community have the resources they need to learn. The core of our unique solution is:
- Meaningful choice: Whether interested in pre-K literacy or science field trips, donors can select the specific project that they feel will have the biggest impact.
- Full accountability: DonorsChoose.org screens each project before posting it online, purchases the materials for the teacher, and compiles a vivid thank-you package for the donors. Contributors can choose the project they want to fund, see the impact of their donation, and know that their dollars were spent as designated.
Through our model, DonorsChoose.org offers an easy way for every day people to support public education. Of our donor base, 70% reported that this was their first-ever donation to public schools. Additionally, 60% of donors reported that their DonorsChoose.org experience increased their interest in the state of public schools today.
Success to date
DonorsChoose.org was pioneered by a Bronx high school teacher, Charles Best, in 2000. In our first eight years of operation, DonorsChoose.org has channeled more than $25 million in resources to more than 1.5 million students. More than 80% of the resources we delivered are reusable for future classes.
Fools for DonorsChoose.org
Through Foolanthropy, Motley Fool members can directly support financial literacy by funding specific projects. The Motley Fool has also committed $10,000, in addition to donor contributions, for any financial literacy project proposal. DonorsChoose.org has been highlighted as "the future of philanthropy" by media ranging from The New York Times andThe Oprah Winfrey Show to the Today Show and CNN Newsnight.