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Behind the Scenes

The Odds Are In Your Favor: How To Get Funded

We love teachers. Our CEO, Charles Best, made it clear in Fast Company feature story, highlighting DonorsChoose.org as one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies In the World. We also get lots of questions about teachers using our site, for example: Which teachers benefit the most from our site?How teachers can crush the odds and get their projects funded? Unlike trying to sell your items on Ebay (~30% success rate), the chances of a teacher getting one of their projects funded on DonorsChoose.org is at 77%.How does inequality in education affect types of resources teachers are requesting for their students?and so
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How did the 2008 recession impact schools?

DonorsChoose.org works at addressing educational inequity, which explains our interest in analyzing broader macro economic trends. This time, we were curious about how the great recession of 2008 impacted what teachers from high-poverty versus low-poverty classrooms were requesting on our site. We felt the data represented a broader economic trend as over 50% of America’s high poverty schools have had projects posted on DonorsChoose.org You’ll see that in high-poverty classrooms, the recession led to a 5X increase in the proportion of requests for essential materials like paper, pencils, and dictionaries, as compared to enrichment materials like owl pellets, butterfly cocoons,
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Tales from the Board Room

Guest Article by Genein Letford (@GeneinLetford), teacher board member Fruit, coffee, presentation folders, the little croissants with the jelly preserves in the middle: all the normal components of a typical board were present, but this was no typical board meeting. My name is Genein Letford, and I have been honored with the first ever educator position on the Board of Directors for DonorsChoose.org. I arrived the day before this past quarter’s board meeting to receive a thorough tour of their beautiful office on 34th street in Manhattan, NY. The environment highly resembles the overall essence of the organization: fun, yet
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How We Leverage Gratitude to Drive a Business Model

Madison wants to see the moon, and her note was one of a half-million that we processed last year.PLUS: Our Top 15 Student Thank You Notes of 2015You might already know how DonorsChoose.org got its start. In 2000, almost a decade before “crowdfunding” became a buzzword, Charles Best, a high school teacher at Wings Academy in the Bronx, created a platform to fund classroom projects for teachers. After a slow start, teachers across the Bronx soon heard about the site, posting hundreds of projects. The story that often doesn’t make the cut is what happened next, how his students helped those
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On the Ground with Tennessee Teachers: 3 Things We Learned from These Amazing Educators

I went to Tennessee to connect with teachers and learn how DonorsChoose.org can help them. What I got was an inspiring sense of community… and one phenomenal haircut. As part of my DonorsChoose.org teacher outreach work, I travel to different parts of the country to see what’s happening on the ground. Recently, as part of a research grant from 100kin10, I found myself on a road trip from Nashville to Memphis—meeting educators and partner organizations, listening to their stories, and helping teachers post their first projects on our site. Many of our country’s teachers share common characteristics—dedication, creativity, and compassion—but every teacher
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Ann Fudge on the Delicious Business of Doing Good

The story of Honey Nut Cheerios, the Wild West of product management, how all’s fair in love and business, and the future of philanthropy. General MillsAnn Fudge, revered businesswoman and known DonorsChoose.org supporter, sat down with our staff as part of our organizational Speaker Series to share a few lessons she’s learned over the course of her career, from her time product managing the launch of Honey Nut Cheerios (yes, the tastiest Cheerios) to sitting on the boards of international companies and advising the likes of President Obama and Paul Ryan. She covered a lot of ground in our talk,
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Watch a Road Trip Help Classrooms Across California and Arizona

For the last few years, we’ve set our sights on a big goal: funding a project from every single high-need public school in America. That’s tougher than it sounds, but thanks to help from our friends at Kia, it’s now a little bit closer in Arizona and California. Last month, Walter Doyle, our director of policy and expansion, set out on a road trip with Kia (while driving one their vehicles, of course) to spread the word about DonorsChoose.org in Phoenix, Tucson, and San Diego. He wound up driving for 570 miles and, along the way, led training workshops to
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Our Data Stack: All Data in One Place

Over the past year we’ve taken steps to centralize our data and to simplify our data stack. Previously, my colleague wrote this post on how we integrate predictive Data Science with traditional Business Intelligence, giving everybody in the org access to predictive analytics. For our Data Science team to be able to build predictive models or generate insights, we needed access to all of our data in one place. Here’s a story of how we put it all together. WHAT WE WANTED We wanted to centralize all of our data from all 3rd party sources and cloud services in a single data warehouse.We wanted to
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The Big Impact of Small Moments

“A butterfly can flap its wings in Peking and in Central Park you get rain instead of sunshine.”– Jurassic Park A single moment can have a powerful effect on a student’s life. A box of crayons can unveil a child’s passion for art, or a trip to the aquarium might inspire a love of marine biology. Every time a donor makes sure a classroom has access to crucial tools and experiences, a student has the opportunity to have their butterfly moment. We see evidence of these moments every day online and through our student thank-yous. And thanks to our high school
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The DonorsChoose.org Avengers: Behind the Scenes with Our Board

Guest blogger Genein Letford is an elementary music teacher from Canoga Park, California and a member of the DonorsChoose.org Board of Directors.   Genein in actionMarvel Comics is onto something: heroes who bring value to their communities and fight injustice to keep their cities functioning. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and other heroes individually use their powers to solve problems for a greater good. But when they come together as The Avengers? They’re unstoppable! As storytellers and readers, we’re told to find the hero within the story—the one who overcomes obstacles, not for the betterment of themselves but for the advancement of those charged to
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