New books, field trip money and art supplies … What does your classroom need? Every year, classroom teachers spend their own money to buy things for their classroom, but it can be hard for one person to buy everything they need. When history teacher Charles Best noticed how many of the teachers in his school were struggling to get good supplies for their classes, he created DonorsChoose.org.
Founded in 2000, DonorsChoose.org was one of the very first crowd funding sites. Best’s students helped him build the site, and the first ten projects were posted by fellow teachers at the school. Best loved the idea, but he was a little worried that the projects wouldn’t get enough money because no one knew about the site, so he secretly gave money to all of them! That got people talking about the site, and the word spread.
Three years later, Oprah Winfrey featured the site on her show. This let much more people hear about it, and word spread. Now, DonorsChoose.org has grown into a powerful way for teachers—and students—to have high-quality tools and supplies in their classrooms. Through the charity, teachers have received everything from paper and glue to new books and laptop computers. So far, DonorsChoose.org has raised over $200 million and bought supplies for more than 400,000 classroom projects.
DonorsChoose.org works just like it sounds, and that’s what makes it so successful. Visitors to the site can read about all kinds of different classroom projects and choose which ones they want to help. It doesn’t take much to help fund a project, either. Donors can give just $1 to a project they want to help fund, and each classroom project request has been checked out by the DonorsChoose.org team to make sure it is right for the site.
According to Best, DonorsChoose.org is powerful because it lets people donate to the classroom projects that they think are the most valuable. “We want to use our site to galvanize people to give,” he says, “but also to take important steps toward real change.”