I wish I could give every person that donated these materials and books to me a hug. They don’t even know me and they are helping me learn. Thank you whoever you are!—Taveon, 4th grader in Dallas TX
When coronavirus began to close schools across the country, we knew we had to respond immediately to get the country’s most vulnerable students what they need.
Since 2000, DonorsChoose has helped over 500,000 public school teachers bring necessary materials to their students. The mission: Create a world where every student in the United States has access to a great education. And the best part of our classroom funding model? Anyone and everyone can help classrooms in need, whether they give $1 or $1,000.
Usually, we ship supplies directly to schools, making sure donors know their donation is being put to good use in the classroom. When so many schools closed this month, we had to figure out a way to reach those students and teachers who were teaching and learning from home — all while maintaining the transparency and accountability that sets us apart as a nonprofit.
“We know that when students in high-poverty communities cannot go to school, their home circumstances, and the resources available in their homes, will define their education,” says DonorsChoose founder (and a former history teacher) Charles Best. “Coronavirus threatens to widen educational inequality in America.”
So we launched the first phase of our response: Keep Kids Learning.
Since the program launched on March 18, an astonishing $11.7 million has been given to support the initiative by over 12,500 individual citizen donors and DonorsChoose partners such as Google.org, Bill & Melinda Gates, General Motors, Chevron, 3M, Equitable Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, Neukom Family Foundation, Samsung, The Pershing Square Foundation and the Employees of Pershing Square Capital Management, Chris & Crystal Sacca, Theresia Gouw, Reese Witherspoon and the Draper James team, Townsend Press, Lightbay Capital, Horace Mann, Oak Foundation, Burton Family Foundation, Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation, and the Perry and Donna Golkin Family Foundation.
So far, over 10,000 teachers have been connected with funding, and students are receiving their supplies. From Mrs. Akowitz in Michigan:
My students have been sending me pictures of the packages they’re receiving and have been overjoyed that I am still thinking about them even though we can’t be together. I am in the process of setting up a meeting with all of them so we can read one of the books I sent them together. They can’t wait. Thank you so much for helping me bring some joy to my students while I can’t be with them.
Funding is also being celebrated by the media. Heartwarming stories have come in from California to Kentucky, from Alabama to New York. Thousands more teachers will be connected with funding in the coming weeks.
Here’s how the program works:
- Donors make a donation of any amount to Keep Kids Learning.
- All donations go to teachers at schools serving low-income communities, where nearly all students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch.
- Teachers select the materials they need and distribute them to students at home.
So what are teachers requesting? Books are a top item teachers say their students need while keeping up with their schoolwork at home, but there’s also a strong need for education kits and games for hands-on learning, and even for classroom basics like pencils and notebooks.
Funded teachers and their students have expressed how the materials will help and the emotional impact this support has had on them. Says Samantha, a 4th-grade teacher in New York:
I am just so grateful that there are people out there who are trying to make a difference in the lives of others during this time in history.
“This has helped keep all of our spirits up. It was very hard for us to learn that we will not be returning to school this year. These resources came just at the right time. I can’t begin to tell you how special this was to myself and my students and their parents. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.” — Mrs. McBrearty, teacher
“The support we received from the Keep Kids Learning Program made a big difference to help support my second-grade students. Your generous and caring spirit was greatly appreciated”- Mrs. Hull, teacher
“Learning is hard during quarantine, but this helps a lot! I like that you can do so many different experiments. Thank you for the science kit!” – Evan, elementary student
“I have already read two of my books since I received them, thank you!” – Jesus, 4th grad student
“Thank you so much. I was able to get plastic protector sheets to put over my workbooks to keep practicing my math. I even got awesome dry erase markers. Thank you.” – Allie, 5th grade student
“This was such a blessing. Now my son can continue to learn with a new calculator, workbooks, and pencils. Thank you so much.” – Diary, mother of student Jayden
“The Keep Kids Learning Program has allowed my students to have supplies and resources for all to engage in our Zoom calls. From whiteboards to 120 charts, all of my students are able to participate, fully prepared, despite any home circumstances. The ease of the ordering process, helped get what my students needed, in this great time of uncertainty, very quickly. The smiles on their faces were priceless. Thank you!” – Ms. Alves, Massachusetts
“Thank you for helping me to take care of my students in a more complete way. You have helped me to reach students and families, to give them academic, arts activities, and self- care items like soap. Thank you doesn’t begin to capture it!”- Ms. Liberatore, teacher
“This was the most amazing opportunity for our community. I was able to give over thirty children learning materials. Students received workbooks, pencils, art supplies, calculators, and even hygiene supplies. The city of Flint and the community of Pierce Elementary thanks you. Without DonorsChoose, we would have never been able to provide these materials. You helped us instill hope in our families and for that, I thank you.”- Ms. Chelsea, teacher
“This act of kindness from the DonorsChoose community has been a dream come true for my students as well as myself. I am so grateful for all the items I was able to purchase to help my students continue to learn during this time.” – Ms. M. Boykin, teacher
You can support teachers through Keep Kids Learning here. (Are you a teacher? Learn more about Keep Kids Learning in our help center.)