Podcast: DonorsChoose.org Responds to the Scarcity of Public School Learning Materials

As a social studies teacher at a Bronx public high school, Charles Best discovered that teachers who needed learning materials for their students were having to dig into their own pockets to buy them for their classrooms. So he founded DonorsChoose.org, a website for online, citizen philanthropy where teachers can list materials they need, and anyone can chose to donate these requested materials.

Best had sensed that that many people wanted to help distressed public schools in the United States that could not afford adequate learning materials, but were frustrated by a lack of influence over their donations. Inspired by a lunchtime conversation with colleagues, Best launched the online charity DonorsChoose.org  in 2000, with the help of his students, to make it easy for anyone to connect directly with classrooms in need.

Listen to this podcast, where Best answers questions from the Changemakers community about the risks and benefits of engaging citizens in pressing social issues.

Through DonorsChoose.org, public school teachers from every corner of America to post their classroom project requests. Requests range from pencils for a poetry writing unit, to violins for a school recital, to microscope slides for a biology class. Donors get photos of the project taking place, a thank-you letter from the teacher, and a cost report showing how each dollar was spent. Donors who give over US$100, also receive hand-written thank-you letters from the students. Through this unique tool to encourage online giving, Best is striving to improve public education by empowering every teacher to be a changemaker and enabling any citizen to be a philanthropist.

This podcast series is part of the Revelation to Action: Your Place. Your Idea. Your Change competition, sponsored by Ashoka’s Changemakers and Green Mountain Coffee, that includes an interview with Bradford K. Smith, president of the Foundation Center, which supports citizen sector organizations of all sizes by maintaining the most comprehensive database on U.S. grantmakers and their grants around the world.

The Revelation to Action: Your Place. Your Idea. Your Change competition was designed to find and help fund the most innovative ideas and organizations that strengthen and improve communities in Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut or Massachusetts. The competition received 358 total entries, and on June 9, fifteen finalists were announced by an expert panel of judges. Three competition winners, and seven state winners that represent the best entries from each of the seven eligible Northeastern states, were announced on July 14 at "Revelation to Action Celebration Event" in Boston.

 

This post was originally from Ashoka Changemakers. It was reposted with permission. 

This article was originally published on June 30, 2010
Related TopicsChildren & Youth, Education / Learning, Youth in Charge

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