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Behind the Scenes

Charles in the Hot Seat: Our CEO Answers Teachers’ Questions

They asked. He answered! Charles Best, our founder and CEO, started DonorsChoose back in 2000 out of his Bronx classroom, and he’s guided the organization every step of the way since then. In a recent newsletter, we opened up the floor for our incredible teachers to ask Charles anything—and they sent us a little bit of everything! We picked the most-asked questions, plus a few favorites, and sat down with Charles to get some answers. Here’s what he had to say. Q. What inspired you to create a system that supports classrooms across the country?Edwina Lawson (Detroit, MI) A. I
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Meet our New San Francisco Office Space

Our West Coast team recently moved into a new home, right in the heart of San Francisco. Now that space is ready to go, thanks to pro bono design work from Eight Inc. Housed in the 1920’s Varlow Building, DonorsChoose.org occupies an entire floor of this historic building. In collaboration with VWB Architects, the new space has been created to support their unique business model and working style. The most significant feature in the space is a centrally located “fort” built from a system of modular wood boxes. This structure houses multiple functions and removable panels of felt, chalkboard material or
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The Secret Life of Thank-Yous

Evan supports teachers as they create their thank-you packages. If you’ve had a question about your thank-yous, there’s a good chance you’ve chatted with Evan. You wrote a fantastic essay and fundraised like a champ. Your project was a big hit with your students, and you helped them craft awesome thank-yous. Then you put the thank-yous in the mail, and… What happens next? Let’s take a closer look at the life of a thank-you package. Once you’ve made it great, how does it reach your donors? From your outbox to our inbox You post your project photos and impact letter directly
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Yvette Nicole Brown Tells Us Why “Teachers Are the Unsung Heroes”

Our team recently got a little boost—and we want to share the love.Actress, philanthropist, and DonorsChoose.org board member Yvette Nicole Brown paid a visit to our office this month and sat down with Charles, our founder and CEO, for an interview. Below are five inspirational snippets from the chat. (Scroll down for the full video!) On chasing your dreams: “When I first started acting, early on, I told myself it takes 100 “no”s to get a “yes”. So that made getting “no”s exciting. And here’s the punchline: I never got to 100. Something always came before I got to 100.
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How We Built an Army of Data Analysts

As DonorsChoose.org grows so does the complexity of questions that we ask of our data. The volume of questions has also risen sharply. From the beginning, we were obsessive about democratizing access to our data through Looker, running on-boarding training, building staff support community on #Slack and involving project managers in investing their teams’ time in being self sufficient with data needs. Our mission was simple: make our two data scientists obsolete. Despite best efforts, we were still too involved in supporting daily business needs that we strongly believed others could do better than us! So we opened a data analytics course
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Behind the Scenes: Replacement Shopping on DonorsChoose.org

Dot Kuznia helps our Project Fulfillment team bring classroom dreams to life by ordering resources for funded projects. If you’ve ever received packages from DonorsChoose.org, chances are Dot had something to do with it! It’s been six exciting and delightful months since I transitioned to our Project Fulfillment team. Working in fulfillment is exceptionally gratifying because we get to bring so many classroom dreams to completion. Most importantly, we care that every teacher’s project comes to life just the way they envisioned. Occasionally, when a project is fully-funded, we hit a snag: an item is no longer available. It’s moments
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Our Favorite Moments from 2017’s DonorsChoose.org Partner Summit

This year’s fifth annual Partner Summit brought together some of our most generous supporters to share insights and inspiration, learn from fantastic speakers, and recognize amazing work from teachers and students across the country. Here are some of our favorite moments from the event: Celebrating our Amazing Teachers Every year, we kick off Partner Summit with an evening that highlights the reason we’re all here: supporting teachers and the students they work with. Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn and a member of the DonorsChoose.org Board of Directors, remotely welcomed everyone to the event, which took place at LinkedIn’s NYC office
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The Infographic that Proves Our Volunteers Are Amazing

It’s safe to say that DonorsChoose.org wouldn’t exist as we do today without the work of our volunteers. Without the hours they put in, we could never screen thousands of projects and thank-you notes each month and still remain lean and scrappy. We certainly owe them a big piece of our 4-star rating on Charity Navigator, a site that rates nonprofits on our efficiency and transparency. We have two DonorsChoose.org volunteer communities: Our “Teachers as Screeners,” a group of current and former teachers who join us remotely to fully vet and verify every project submitted to our site. Our in-office
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What 1 Million Classroom Projects Reveal About What Teachers Need Most

The DonorsChoose.org community hit a huge milestone recently: Funding our first million classroom projects. That means a million times teachers opened boxes of new supplies for their students, and a million times compassionate supporters stepped up for education. It also reveals a lot about what teachers need for their classrooms. Here are five ways education has changed since 2000, as told through DonorsChoose.org project requests. Technology: Meet The New Classroom Essentials We asked teachers about the most critical resource needs for their classrooms. Their top answer? Technology. Since 2008, requests for technology have skyrocketed, now making up 20–30% of all
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The First: Behind the Scenes with the DonorsChoose.org Board

Guest blogger Genein Letford is an elementary music teacher from Canoga Park, California and a member of the DonorsChoose.org Board of Directors. (She’s also a recent TEDx speaker!) Some milestones you never forget. That first group of little ones you inspired. The first time a bee flew into your class and you had to send the bee, along with your math lesson, out the window. Your student’s first “a-ha” moment that you guided them toward for so long. This has been an exciting time for first milestones on DonorsChoose.org as well. On January 25th, we celebrated our #FirstMillion funded projects. ONE MILLION!!!  I
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