DonorsChoose.org, Gates Foundation and Stephen Colbert Team Up to Support Teachers and Promote College Readiness for All
NEW YORK, April 21, 2009 — The Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation and DonorsChoose.org, the online charity that connects
individual "citizen philanthropists" with classrooms in need, today
announced a landmark grant that enables DonorsChoose.org to fund up to 50
percent of the cost of individual classroom projects developed by teachers
to promote college-readiness among students in high-need and underserved
urban and rural public schools.
TV personality Stephen Colbert, a DonorsChoose.org board member,
moderated the event where the announcement was made. "Double Your Impact" will be funded with a $4.1 million investment from the Gates Foundation and is expected to support more than 17,000 classroom projects, touching more than 300,000 students across the nation. By enabling DonorsChoose.org to contribute half of the required dollars, the grant helps to incentivize individual "citizen philanthropists" to donate and accelerate the process of fully funding projects. DonorsChoose.org enables teachers to describe specific educational projects for their classrooms and individuals to
choose which projects to fund. This approach has been effective in funding
projects in high-need and underserved schools.
"Teachers across the country are creating classroom projects and
lessons that engage kids in creative and innovative ways. Generous citizen
philanthropists, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's invaluable
support, are making sure they have the materials needed to spark the
passion for learning," said Charles Best, founder and CEO of
DonorsChoose.org. "This grant helps us drive attention and contributions to
projects aimed at preparing kids to succeed in college."
"DonorsChoose.org supports teachers in a truly powerful way --engaging
the public in support of teachers and the innovative energy they bring to
the classroom," said Vicki L. Phillips, director of education at the Gates
Foundation. "We hope this partnership will give citizen donors an added
incentive to support projects that empower public school teachers to help
prepare students to graduate ready to succeed in college and beyond."
Today's event was held at Manhattan Bridges High School in New York
City, which has benefited from three teacher-submitted projects funded
through the "Double Your Impact" initiative. Manhattan Bridges serves new
immigrants and English Language Learners - historically
academically-challenged demographics - and has consistently posted
graduation rates significantly higher than the city average, in part due to
its tailored programming for students.
"DonorsChoose.org allows people from all walks of life to help specific
classrooms directly," said Stephen Colbert. "As I endeavor to protect our
children from bears, DonorsChoose.org is protecting public school kids from
classrooms that lack the materials necessary to rigorously prepare them for
While many organizations raise funds for basic school supplies, the
DonorsChoose.org model supports specific classroom projects that are
submitted and designed by any public school teacher in the U.S. to further
defined educational goals. Under the "Double Your Impact" initiative, the
requests eligible for 50 percent funding from DonorsChoose.org through the
grant from the Gates Foundation are those that promote college-readiness.
Such projects include student trips to college campuses as well as
classroom books, SAT/ACT preparation materials, and other resources that
strengthen the learning experience.
"DonorsChoose.org has helped provide the additional materials, such as
college essay prep books, that can help teachers like me create programs
that are targeted to the unique needs of our students and get them really
excited about learning," said Elizabeth Smith, a teacher at Manhattan
Bridges High School. "My goal is to create opportunities for my students to
learn in innovative, inspiring ways. This has made all the difference in
what our students believe they can achieve."
Founded in 2000, DonorsChoose.org is a nonprofit website where public
school teachers describe specific educational projects for their students,
and donors can choose the projects they want to support. After completing a
project, the donor hears back from the classroom they supported in the form
of photographs and student thank-you letters.
To date, 88,000 public and charter school teachers have used the site
to secure funding for $30.3 million in books, art supplies, technology, and
other resources that their students need to learn. Through
http://www.DonorsChoose.org, individuals from all walks of life have helped 1.8 million students from low-income families.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive
lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and
giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme
poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all
people--especially those with the fewest resources--have access to the
opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle,
Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William
H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren
Buffett. Learn more at http://www.gatesfoundation.org.
SOURCE Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation