Being the spouse of a teacher is not for the faint of heart. Each school year is accompanied by incredibly gratifying peaks and exhaustively trying valleys. The helplessness of watching your spouse wake up at 3am because they have a standardized test the following day can be borderline paralyzing, while sharing in the joy of a student’s achievement can be elating. One of the cooler peaks I’ve gotten to share with Kelly this year is watching her Donors Choose project.
Founded in 2000 by Charles Best, a Bronx public high school teacher, Donors Choose is a nonprofit whose mission is to “make it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need, moving us closer to a nation where students in every community have the tools and experiences needed for a great education.” After growing frustrated trying to find enough copies of Little House on the Prairie for his students to read (a task in which he did not succeed, eventually leading him to make photocopies of the one book he could find), Charles started to think about the books, art supplies and classroom materials that were privately funded by his colleagues. He figured that if people could see their money directly supporting classrooms, they would be willing to help and Donors Choose was born.
Sixteen years later, Donors Choose is open to every public school in America and has received donations from some 2 million donors. They make sure that every request is properly vetted, purchase each item, and ship the materials directly to verified schools to ensure that no funny business occurs.
As for getting to watch Kelly’s Donors Choose project, there are very few things cooler than watching a project like this happen in real time. She set out to obtain enough copies of the book On My Honor for her class, and in a matter of days they arrived in her classroom. I’ve included a timeline below to show how the process works and would encourage everyone to help a teacher out and donate through Donors Choose.
I also want to include a special shout out to KarmaLit (featured on Tuesday) as their Smell Good. Do Good. initiative donates directly to Donors Choose and was part of the inspiration for Kelly’s project.
Last but not least, if you’d like a little more of the Donors Choose backstory, check out the following interview with Charles Best on the From Scratch Podcast.