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Want to thank a teacher? Try DonorsChoose.org

Want to thank a teacher? Try DonorsChoose.org

What do you give a teacher who has more coffee mugs than there are days in the week? Try DonorsChoose.org, an online charity that facilitates fundraising for individual teachers’ class projects. It’s a thoughtful way to say thank you during Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7–11) or at the end of the school year, when tissue boxes, pencils and disinfecting wipes are no longer useful.

“DonorsChoose is a great opportunity to get much-needed dollars directly into teachers’ hands,” says Pat Gottfried, vice president of corporate social responsibility for Apollo Education Group, the parent company of University of Phoenix. DonorsChoose.org was selected for the organization’s Holiday Give Back last December, netting $200,000 in employee donations for classrooms across the country.

The online charity is the brainchild of Charles Best, a high school teacher from the Bronx who was looking for a way to overcome persistent school-supply shortages and stiff competition for limited funds. The website became his way to help individuals connect directly with classrooms in need.

DonorsChoose.org makes it easy for anyone to become a philanthropist, even if the gift is as modest as $1.

There are numerous nonprofits dedicated to supporting public education, but this one stands out for organizational leaders because of its responsiveness and transparency, Gottfried says. It is open to all teachers nationwide who seek funding for classroom projects, and they can find a huge variety of items (flash drives for a reading project, wireless microphones for a theater production … you name it). The DonorsChoose.org team vets each project before posting it on the site, and contributors can watch online as goals are reached, items are delivered to the schools and projects come to life. Teachers can even make multiple requests throughout the year, and many of the materials are reusable.

DonorsChoose.org makes it easy for anyone to become a philanthropist, even if the gift is as modest as $1. And every donor experiences the same level of choice, transparency and feedback — the kind of options often reserved for wealthy benefactors. Interested in funding projects related to the environment, technology or art? Prefer to support impoverished schools in distant regions of the country — or the middle school down the street? A keyword search tool on the site helps narrow the options, based on whatever matters most to you.

“This innovative, up-and-coming nonprofit is doing good work,” Gottfried says, adding that the University will continue to support DonorsChoose.org in upcoming fundraisers. “It aligns with our mission to make a positive impact in education.”