Charles Best came up with an idea for funding school projects while eating lunch in the teacher’s lounge at his high school in the Bronx, N.Y.
His “Big Idea” has collected millions and has supported innovative and creative classroom projects in the country.
Best is founder and executive director of DonorsChoose.org, an online portal where teachers can go straight to the public to find potential financial supporters.
“Nothing stands between a teacher’s idea and possible funding,” Best said. “No more gatekeepers.”
Since 2007, $1.5 million has been given to 944 Idaho teachers and 2,200 classroom projects.
“It’s a simple way to address education inequities,” Best said. “The public can choose what project to fund.”
While DonorsChoose.org funds small projects, it also has potential to drive systemic change.
“We noticed math teachers asking for cooking utensils and discovered following recipes was a great way for kids to grasp math concepts,” Best said. “That’s insight only a frontline teacher would come up with.”
Requests must come from one teacher and can support classroom innovation or a school project. Best said he is next considering allowing students (with a faculty adviser) to submit funding ideas.
Everyone who attended Wednesday’s lunch was given a $250 gift card to donate on DonorsChoose.org. The website is searchable for Idaho projects or themes, such as music or math.
To read the full recap of the event from Jennifer Swindell of Idaho Ed News, click here.