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These organizations who do essential work all year long when it comes to supporting Black teachers, students, and communities. Check them out.
DonorsChoose was founded by a Bronx schoolteacher in 2000 because he believed every public school student should have the tools they need to succeed. We continue to strive toward this goal today, and — with our equity focus — empower donors to give where it’s needed most. This includes supporting Black teachers and their students.
However, we know this work doesn’t stop with us! That’s why we’re shouting out some amazing organizations that do essential work to uplift Black teachers and kids all year long. Which are your favorites to support?
We love STEM, and Black Girls Code is working to make sure every student has access to the curriculum and skills needed for learning pathways in tech, providing training, resources, and support to Black girls and gender nonconforming youth of color.
When you think of Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) you may think of the incredibly powerful work they do in the criminal justice system. However, EJI also has a Public Education program dedicated to providing educational media, lesson plans, and beyond to close the racial and economic gap to support the teaching of our country’s full history.
The Center for Black Educator Development works to increase the number of Black teachers so that Black and other disenfranchised students can reap the full benefits of a quality public education. Fun fact: DonorsChoose worked with their founder Sharif El-Mekki to launch the largest survey ever centering male teachers of color.
As the name suggests, the Black Teacher Project is focused on supporting and retaining Black educators in schools across the U.S. They believe the more Black educators there are in school the more students will benefit in big ways — a fact we know to be true through data and our own work at DonorsChoose. We’re personal fans of their motto, “Every student deserves a Black teacher.”
The Education Trust is working for an education system where every kid, regardless of their background or how much money their family has, has the same shot at success. The Education Trust uses the power of research to push for education equity and to break down unfair barriers in schools and colleges. We have to say, that’s a pretty cool mission.
Learning for Justice was founded by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a means to address inequities in education. Explore their site to find loads of resources (training, workshops, you name it!) to empower teachers, make schools more equitable, and address oppression head on.
As one of America's oldest (founded in 1909!) and largest civil rights organizations, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People fights for political, educational, social, and economic equality for all, particularly Black Americans. While every aspect of the NAACP’s work is vital, we recommend getting to know their Educational Innovation work especially.
Another STEM-forward organization we admire, the National Society of Black Engineers is student-led and works to eliminate systemic inequities in education for the field of engineering (as you might have guessed from the name). NSBE provides awesome resources for both pre-collegiate and collegiate students who are interested in achieving Black engineer excellence.
While the National Urban League has a much broader mission to promote economic empowerment and equity for all Black people and other underserved communities in the country, part of this organization’s work to achieve this goal is programs that help close gaps in education specifically. In fact, the National Urban League has a ton of signature projects focused on supporting students of color that are worth checking out out.
Race Forward has been around for over 40 years working to dismantle structural racism through collective community power. What caught the attention of our team at DonorsChoose especially is their Honest Education Action & Leadership work. This is a collaborative effort with students, parents, educators, and school board members to provide resources that help build public education that reflects the best of who we are and who we can be.
Founded by public school teachers, education activists, and community members, Rethinking Schools is a leading publisher for social justice education materials, including a grassroots magazine that features issues in social and racial justice in education. This is such a solid resource for educators and educational supporters alike to help close the equity gap in learning.
TMCF is the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community — and they also provide tremendous support for the country’s K-12 system. One particular program worthy of a shout out is their Teacher Quality and Retention program that helps to support aspiring, pre-service, and new teachers from publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominately Black Institutions.
Through student scholarships, providing financial support to HBCUs, and serving as the nation’s leading advocates for minority education and community engagement, UNCF is dedicated to increasing the total annual number of Black college graduates — a mission they’ve been succeeding at for nearly seven decades now.
Word in Black is a collaboration of 10 leading Black publishers. Their vision? Be the most trusted news and information source for, about, and by Black people. Their reporting on educational equity in K-12 in particular is something we cannot recommend highly enough.
National Black Lives Matter at School strives for racial justice in education for Black youth, educators, and all youth of color. To do so, they advocate for mental health support, increases in Black teaching staff, ending police presence in schools, and mandating Black history and ethnic studies.
This organization is all about mentorship; it’s one of America’s top Black-led mentoring organizations, in fact! Supplying resources and learning tools that young people need to feel empowered in their education and their futures, 100 Black Men of America also have chapters across the country to better address needs specific to communities — an approach we love to see at DonorsChoose.
Of course, these are only some of the many organizations supporting Black educators and students and striving for equity in our education system. We hope you found a few of your favorite organizations on this list or found a new organization to check out.
Can’t-miss moments from this year’s Black History Month
Black teachers have been instrumental in shaping Black history and American history.
Besides being terrific educators, so many Black teachers today are activists, community leaders, and agents of change. (Looking to meet some of these wonderful teachers now? Meet 5 life-changing teachers in this post and a groundbreaking STEM expert in this post.)
This Black History Month, the DonorsChoose community, generous partners, and celebrity champions wanted to give Black teachers and students the support and resources to do their amazing work all year round.
From celebrity shout-outs to fully-funded projects to a gift code surprise of a lifetime, check out all the ways the DonorsChoose community showed up for Black teachers and students this February.
The incredible teachers and kids of Burroughs Elementary in Tulsa, Oklahoma were surprised with $100,000 in DonorsChoose gift codes this month! Burroughs was the first school in Tulsa to desegregate and today serves a majority Black student population. Check out the unmissable moment that students learned of the funding on KOTV:
The nation’s first Historically Black College and University, Cheyney University, was founded on February 25, 1837! In honor of the 87th university of this groundbreaking event, every Black DonorsChoose teacher who is an HBCU alum and had a project live got a $50 donation to their request.
A generous donor gave $50,000 in honor of comedian, activist, and DonorsChoose champion W. Kamau Bell to support teachers in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. In total, 63 projects were funded from Black teachers and schools where the majority of the students are Black!
Actress and comedian Amanda Seales is known for tackling important conversations with humor. This Black History Month, in tandem with Smart Funny & Black Productions, Amanda surprised teachers by funding every single project from Black teachers and schools where the majority of the students are Black in North Hills and Inglewood, California — her home communities.
Amanda Seales and W. Kamau Bell weren’t the only celebs to show up for DonorsChoose teachers this month! They also received shout-outs from NFL star Kelvin Beachum Jr. and Emmy-nominated actress Yvette Nicole Brown.
I started as a donor myself and am now Vice Chair of the @DonorsChoose board! I believe fully in everything we do to help teachers and students. I love to play game shows on their behalf! ❤️ https://t.co/mtsR9OBM8w— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) February 17, 2024
Social media was blowing up this Black history month with stories, videos, and exciting shoutouts, but none were more heartwarming than the portraits of Black leaders hand-drawn by students. Anyone who has spent time in a classroom knows that Black leaders and educators are vital role models for all students. But don’t take our word for it; the portraits say it all:
You can support Black teachers and students on DonorsChoose year-round, but we also want to shout-out fellow organizations doing amazing work for Black educators and educational equity. Check out the full list here.
DonorsChoose and the Center for Black Educator Development Presented at UNCF’s Equity in Education Virtual Learning Series
Last week, DonorsChoose VP, Equity & Impact Kristina “Steen” Joye Lyles and Center for Black Educator Development CEO Sharif El-Mekki shared the results from our co-published survey at the National Network of State Teachers of the Year and UNCF (United Negro College Fund) for the “Equity in Education: Advancing Black Teachers and Parents” Virtual Learning Series.
During the weeklong symposium, participants engaged in vital conversations about strengthening the Black teacher pipeline from educators, historians, parents, and more. We were honored to be part of this conversation and share how the results of our survey — the largest-ever centering male educators of color — make clear the remarkable impact and the unique burdens of Black male educators. Analysis of these findings suggests a path forward for recruiting, supporting, and retaining Black men as teachers in the classroom.
STEM educator Myesha C. Wallace shares her 3 steps
As a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) educator with a focus on video game design, I believe we need to redefine, to reimagine, what we mean by STEM education – and it’s my mission to give younger generations of marginalized students the necessary tools they need to navigate the obstacles and discrimination they encounter.
I was a young girl in Mississippi when a teacher first made me aware that I would face obstacles because of my identity. I told him that my dream was to work for Disney. “Ms. Wallace” he cautioned, “Black people don’t work at Disney…” Harsh as it sounded, I recognized that this respected Black man was giving me advice born of generations of finding our path in society where the deck was stacked against us. Thankfully, I found my way around those obstacles and into the classroom, where I practice — and preach — three ways to enhance inclusivity in STEM classrooms.
American history has frequently overlooked the substantial contributions of Black Americans within STEM fields. Building upon the legacy of STEM evangelists George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington, the ethos of most Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) incorporates STEM education at its core. These institutions are designed for practical problem-solving, addressing real-world issues that resonate within the Black American community. This approach encompasses a broad spectrum, including mechanics, agriculture, and engineering, reflecting a commitment to addressing the pressing challenges that matter in the lived experiences of Black Americans.
Resources also matter, especially in schools that experience systemic underfunding. That’s why I’m grateful for opportunities to supplement our school’s resources with technology from competitions like Solve for Tomorrow, and the generous support of contributors to DonorsChoose.
Now that I’m teaching in my home state of Mississippi after pursuing design studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design and gaining experience in web and UI design in Atlanta, I find renewed energy in supporting the aspirations of next-gen learners of color. In doing so, I not only uplift others but also honor my own dreams. As I glance in the mirror, I often find myself singing along to my favorite Disney song, "Reflection" from Mulan.
Black excellence in education goes beyond a single month. Take a moment to celebrate 5 outstanding teachers who make a difference for students year-round.
Black excellence has never been confined to a single month — especially when it comes to education. At DonorsChoose, we see the year-round difference that Black educators make in their classrooms. And besides being terrific educators, Black teachers are also activists, community leaders, agents of change, and so much more. This February, get to know 5 of the many amazing Black educators on DonorsChoose who exemplify this in their communities.
To Mr. Holley-Ames, connecting with his students on a real level is critical‚— and the data agrees. The graduation rate among Black students increases by 33% if they have just one Black teacher between third and fifth grade. “As a young Black male teacher, I have a lot in common with my students,” he says, “... my students have a unique level of trust in me because we can relate to each other.” But Mr. Holley-Ames also goes above and beyond to create a safe space for all his students, so that they know their potential is limitless.
As he puts it, “I want my students to have confidence in themselves. Even if they think an answer is wrong, I want them to still share it. There are no dumb questions in my class. The fear of being wrong can hold you back … I know that if they can be fearless in their learning, they’ll be able to achieve anything.”
With 25 years of teaching under her belt, Ms. Louis knows education and helping students grow into the best version of themselves means teaching and supporting beyond just her lesson plans. As a result, she has left an iconic mark on so many of her students across the decades.
As Ms. Louis told us, “I have the ability to inspire and motivate my students through love. I believe in teaching the whole child. I support more than their academic needs, but their social emotional needs as well. Many of my students come back to my school and look for me. They invite me to their sweet 16's, weddings, and graduations.”
Dedicated math-teacher and all-around relationship-builder, Ms. Dixon knows just what it takes to inspire not only her students but whole communities. In fact, her and her class once led a school-wide effort to provide hard-to-get resources like Lysol wipes during the pandemic to her school and nearby community.
Ms. Dixon’s advice to other Black teachers? “The students need you, the teachers need you, the community needs you. Not just to be in the building but to walk in excellence, to be the change you wish to see. To bring all of your richness in culture, pedagogy, style and swag, too. Being an educator is the richest career in the world because we are the creators and the real influencers of the world. It all starts with us so even on the tough days go in and thrive.”
This educator doesn’t just motivate her students, she motivates everyone around her. From donating DonorsChoose-funded legos resources to her school’s STEM room to training her fellow colleagues on how to post their own amazing projects, Mrs. Gill is the definition of generosity and sharing the wealth.
Speaking of, the message she’d like to share to other Black educators out there is this: “Stay the course and inspire your students to see greatness in themselves. Teach them how to identify their strengths and work on their goals. Let them know that things get hard for everyone but they have people pushing for them.”
With another 25 years of teaching experience, Mrs. Richardson isn’t unrealistic about the challenges that exist for her students, but she absolutely knows how to push for progress in new and fresh ways. She even has helped inspire legislation in her state of Virginia that supports Computer Science. This is just one example of the ways Mrs. Richardson sees the big picture in being a teacher.
In her words, “We know that school is so much more than just a building and so much happens inside than just teaching. ALL of us provide our children with something and we might not know what that something is right now, but know that each one of you is where you are supposed to be. This work is not easy, but stay the course because you are needed.”
Black teachers have always been instrumental in American history. But knowing all the creative, thoughtful, student-centered, light-bulbs-just-appeared, idea-sparking, projects we’ve seen already come from teachers on the DonorsChoose site alone, we know that Black educators are instrumental in shaping the future too. We know with the right resources and support, Black teachers and their students will achieve their dreams and help create a more equitable future.
Looking to directly support Black teachers and students? Check out these DonorsChoose projects.
10 years, $10 million, and tens of thousands of classrooms
Can we huddle real quick? Since a lot of us have just cheered on our favorite college teams, we wanted to spotlight one of our favorite dream teams: DonorsChoose and the College Football Playoff (CFP) Foundation!
Year after year, the CFP Foundation has helped us ensure that classroom needs are met across the country through their Extra Yard for Teachers platform. Since this year marks our partnership’s 10 year anniversary, we couldn’t help but replay a few key achievements over the years. Let’s roll the tape back… or, you know, scroll down the page!
So how did this partnership come to be? The CFP Foundation elevates the teaching profession by implementing and supporting activities across four main areas: resources, recognition, recruitment and professional development. Its community outreach arm Extra Yard for Teachers has become the largest sports entity dedicated to supporting teachers.
For everyone keeping score at home, that’s 10 strong years of partnership between the CFP Foundation and DonorsChoose — with CFPF investing $10.8 million, impacting tens of thousands of teachers and millions of students. And there are so many meaningful moments that got us here that’s worth a replay, including:
10: A WINNING PLAY FOUR YEARS RUNNING
The annual Big Day for Teachers and Extra Yard for Teachers Week, both of which have built momentum across our nation’s college football community to celebrate teachers every September.
9: 2016 REPLAY FROM ARIZONA
In the lead up to the 2016 Championship Game in Phoenix, College Football Playoff Foundation and the Phoenix Host Committee fully funded all 734 live projects in Arizona in a single instant.
8: AN ANNUAL HIGHLIGHT
Each September, universities, conferences, bowl games, ESPN, and education supporters across the country honor and recognize great teachers during the 8-day celebration, Extra Yards for Teachers, with public recognition and DonorsChoose gift cards.
7: 2021 BIG 12 REPLAY
The Big 12 Conference and College Football Playoff Foundation instantly brought to life project requests across ten cities with schools in the Big 12 Conference.
6: BIG WINS FROM BIG ASSISTS
The CFP Foundation rallies their other corporate partners, including Dr Pepper, Eckrich, and Cheez-It to support the work of DonorsChoose teachers everywhere.
5: 2023 REPLAY FROM THE MIDWEST
Cheez-It and CFP Foundation team up on the Big Day For Teachers to fund 253 DonorsChoose projects from 198 teachers across 103 schools in Illinois and Michigan — not to mention the 437 classroom dreams they brought to life in Orlando, Florida on Championship game day!
4: 2019 COTTON BOWL REPLAY
The Cotton Bowl Foundation and CFP Foundation surprised 200 teachers with $500 DonorsChoose gift codes to support schools impacted by tornadoes that hit Dallas that year.
3: 2021 REPLAY FROM MIAMI
As part of the College Football Playoff Champ Week Funding, ESPN funded 126 Pe-K-12 projects in Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
2: 2022 REPLAY FROM LOS ANGELES
CFP Foundation fully funded 81 mental health projects from teachers at historically underfunded schools who’d never before received funding through DonorsChoose.
1: TODAY’S ON-FIELD HIGHLIGHT
The $1 Million Challenge for Teachers returned for the 2023-2024 college football season!
College Football Playoff, with their sponsor Eckrich, is inviting nominated teachers onto the field at some of this season’s biggest matchups. These lucky teachers, randomly selected from the entries, had a chance to win up to $1 million dollars in grants to fund local schools.
Whether it’s football playoffs or funding projects, we all know one thing for sure: Our teachers and their bright learners are the real MVPs. Every day, educators are the ones making sure their classrooms have what they need to be a thriving playing field for ALL students — we’re just glad to have the community and partners to help them achieve it.
Learn more about CFP Foundation and the Extra Yard for Teachers.
DonorsChoose and LOFT teamed up to uplift teachers voices on the importance of inclusive classrooms
Social impact storytelling is the fastest way to reach peoples’ hearts, but when you’re empowering so many people who go on to achieve so much, finding the perfect story can be like finding a needle in a haystack. And on social media, where authenticity is the name of the game, making sure that bite-sized message truly reflects the communities you’re serving is critical to success.
Through their partnership with education nonprofit DonorsChoose, LOFT was able to do just that. By passing the mic to the teachers they supported, LOFT shared inspiring stories of inclusive classrooms year round — all while helping students get the resources they need to learn and grow. In addition to blowing past their fundraising goals, LOFT got some high praise from their community!
“This just made my day! Thank you so much for supporting teachers. I can’t wait to shop!”
Uplifting and supporting America’s teacher community has always been at the heart of the LOFT brand. As part of their commitment to educators, LOFT hosts an annual back-to-school point of sale campaign, where donated funds directly support public school teachers through nonprofit crowdfunding platform DonorsChoose.
For the 2022–23 school year, LOFT wanted to tell rich stories on their primary social platform, Instagram, and give teachers the opportunity to share their own perspectives. LOFT wanted to go beyond the resources teachers requested to uncover how teachers are thinking about building inclusive classrooms.
In alignment with their overall messaging plans, LOFT selected four key moments to invest in storytelling: Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Earth Month, and Teacher Appreciation Week. To make sure each of those storytelling moments felt authentic and relevant, LOFT needed to find a group of engaged and diverse educators who would be excited to celebrate their classrooms with LOFT — even with their busy teacher schedules!
After LOFT wrapped their 2022 point of sale campaign, they launched a series of match offers and funding drops, supporting public school teachers’ requests for classroom resources across the country. DonorsChoose gave teachers the chance to be featured in storytelling opportunities guaranteeing that any teacher LOFT reached out to would already be topped up with gratitude!
Teachers who raised their hands answered a brief survey about their classrooms and teaching, and we’re outfitted in LOFT clothing as a thank you for their time.
Over the course of the year, LOFT successfully partnered with more than a dozen teachers of diverse backgrounds to hear how they bring learning to their students, and how they’re making their classrooms more inclusive. In addition to supporting the resources teachers need, LOFT showed the public powerful representation of our country’s diverse teacher workforce and the learning they help students achieve. Here are a few of our favorite features:
Other teachers were delighted to see LOFT celebrating education, inspiring responses like “Wow!! This is so sweet!! Thank you so much! I’m wearing my LOFT jeans today!” and “I am so grateful for this!! Thank you so incredibly much!! I am a die hard LOFT lover and I am so excited!”
During the back to school and holiday seasons, LOFT exceeded their fundraising goal, increasing their fundraising from the year prior by 5X, and raising nearly $1 million dollars for classrooms across the country. Over the course of the year, they helped fund 4,700 projects from 3,400 schools — the majority of which are historically underfunded and within 20 miles of LOFT stores.
We’re so grateful to our partners at LOFT for their ongoing support for America’s public school classrooms!
Public schools are not created equal. If passing news headlines, ballot measures in your community, or conversations with friends and colleagues have left you wondering what’s going on with inequity in our nation’s school system, read on.
Public schools are not created equal. If passing news headlines, ballot measures in your community, or conversations with friends and colleagues have left you wondering what’s going on with inequity in our nation’s school system, read on. Here’s your Equity in Education primer – and what you can do to make a difference.
Let’s be sure we’re all starting with the same definition:
eq·ui·ty justice according to natural law or right; specifically: freedom from bias or favoritism
In other words, equity is an even playing field for everyone.
Equity in education means that all teachers and all students have access to the same school supplies that their peers do.
Where a kid lives shouldn’t affect how likely it is that their library has a full set of up-to-date history books, a working computer, and enough paper and pencils to last the school year.
Through extensive research, the team at DonorsChoose developed two criteria to identify schools most likely to have below-average access to resources (we call these Equity Focus Schools):
Schools across the country vary greatly in their ability to provide adequate resources for teachers and students. Some of this is entrenched in decades of complicated legislation, some of this is due to deep-rooted economic disparity – and all of it is unfair to students and their teachers.
Segregation (racial and economic) very much exists.
+ gerrymandered school district boundaries
+ overallocation of resources to districts with fewer students
= major inequities in funding.
It’s because of these factors that school districts serving mostly students of color get $23 billion less in state and local funding each year — in other words, $2,266 less per student compared to school districts with mostly White students. When we translate that stat from dollars to supplies and experiences, we get a profound deficit in exposure, access, and empowerment that affects students far into their college and career paths.
For every $100 of their own money a teacher serving mostly White students spends, a teacher serving mostly students of color spends $131. This on-average 31% difference means teachers serving mostly students of color very likely get access to fewer resources from their schools. Out-of-pocket spending is one big reason teachers are leaving the profession at alarming rates, decreasing the number of qualified and experienced teachers in classrooms nationwide.
Inequity in our educational system puts students at an unfair disadvantage for opportunities throughout the rest of their lives, at no fault of their own.
Right now, there are over 50,000 projects from teachers at Equity Focus schools, requesting not only basic supplies, but the educational experiences they dream of giving their students that their school cannot provide. The tablets and robotics kits and class sets of new books that come standard in well-funded schools are DonorsChoose-dependent dreams for teachers in Equity Focus Schools.
Race and economic opportunity are intrinsically linked. Insufficient funding for schools serving mostly students of color (and the resulting lack of exposure and experience from a young age) plays a major role in limiting opportunities and affecting outcomes. For example, studies show that in the U.S., Black and Native American children are less likely to rise above their family's economic status than white children.
Girls who attend high schools with a higher number of female STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) teachers are 19% more likely to graduate from college with a science or math major. Yet women are three times less likely to teach math, and two-and-a-half times less likely to teach science. Female students need female STEM teachers!The dropout rate among black students decreases by 33% if they have just one
Black teacher between third and fifth grade. Black students need Black teachers! All students need teachers in whom they can see their own futures, successes, and identities. In fact, DonorsChoose has seen a 117% increase in classroom projects requesting resources for students to "see themselves."
Pay close attention to the legislative measures on your local, state, and federal ballots. You have a voice in these matters – use it to speak up for students and teachers!
Make a donation to a classroom where it can make the biggest difference. Pick one (or two or ten) requests from Equity Focus Schools and help fund the supplies, experiences, and dream-big classroom enhancements that will begin to even out the playing field for all students.
Organizations like Racial Equity Tools provide curated tools, tips, and ideas for people who want to increase their understanding and to help those working for racial justice at every level. If you’re a teacher or education leader looking to bring more diversity, empathy, and empathy to your school community, Learning for Justice has some great professional development resources.
Learn more about how our Equity Focus empowers our community to make a difference by going to donorschoose.org/equity-focus.
So you just got a promo code to use on your DonorsChoose project. Now what?
When entered during checkout, DonorsChoose promo codes instantly multiply donations. For example, sometimes a promo code unlocks doubled donations (a $20 gift becomes $40). Promo code funding comes from the DonorsChoose community, generous corporate and foundation partners, or superstar individual donors who want to support classrooms.
Keep in mind:
💬 Promo codes give teachers a great reason to reach out to their communities for support.
⏰ Every promo code expires, so sharing and using a promo code is a time-sensitive thing!
✅ There’s a special spot for donors to enter codes at checkout. (A step-by-step tutorial is available here!)
Donors love promo codes because it increases the impact of their gift (bonus money!). Teachers love promo codes because they help fund projects extra fast. Promo codes can be shared widely and make an immediate difference for teachers and students.
Share it!! Text or email the code to your friends and family, post it on your Instagram, do whatever you do to spread the word. Make sure to send the link to your project, too!
Here’s an easy message to send:
Fundraising for your project can feel overwhelming, but a promo code gives you a great reason to reach out to your supporters. We know from years of promo code experience that donors LOVE watching even their smallest gifts multiply instantly.
If you have a project live, right now keep an eye on your inbox and get ready to share! Promo codes drop throughout the year — you (and your donors!) won’t want to miss the chance for a boost.
Looking for more ways to share your project? Check out this blog post!
Check out these top picks and find your students’ (or your own!) next read.
Teachers know: Students thrive when they can see themselves in their learning materials. Libraries come to life when the shelves are filled with diverse stories, characters, and authors. Black students especially deserve to see themselves in stories beyond those of suffering; stories by and about Black folks filled with joy, love, and magic are essential for every classroom.
We broke down the data and these are the most popular books by Black authors that teachers request on DonorsChoose. Plus, we added a couple of buzzy new releases to add to your list too. Check out these top picks and find your students’ (or your own!) next read.
For fans of Jason Reynold’s 2017 Long Way Down, check out his 2021 release: Stuntboy, in the Meantime. This entertaining, action-packed graphic novel, introduces middle-grade readers to Portico Reeves (aka Stuntboy), a Black fourth-grader and superhero. This story follows Portico as he navigates bullying and family troubles, all while addressing big and important feelings of worry, anxiety, and fear in positive ways.
“The pages are filled with beautiful and engaging art, a plot line like they have never seen before and, no doubt, a story that will become a favorite for all of us. The story features a main character who lives in an apartment building full of intriguing characters and a boy who is truly a superhero!” —Mrs. Mannle, Class Set of Stuntboy, In The Meantime
Hair Love tells the story of a Black father who jumps in to style his daughters hair when her mom is away. This heartwarming depiction of a father-daughter relationship was also turned into a 7 minute animated film.
Skin Like Mine celebrates the beauty of diverse skin tones. Already love Skin Like Mine? Check out another Latisha M. Perry teacher fave from the Kids Like Mine series, Hair Like Mine.
Sulwe, written by actress Lupita Nyong'o, tells the story of a young girl who wishes her skin were lighter. The 2019 children’s book explores colorism and, ultimately, how to love yourself.
“Sulwe is a book that promotes self-love, and acceptance, while helping children to be proud of who they are and realize they're just as beautiful outside as they are within. This book is a sweet take on ways young children can be helped to confront colorism.” —Mr. Romelle, Self Love
Alvin Ailey broke ground when he founded a Black modern dance company in 1958. This illustrated children’s book shows off Ailey’s childhood, choreography, and founding of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
In her New York Times bestseller, Jacqueline Woodson explores difference and belonging in The Day You Begin. Lyrical and beautifully illustrated, the book speaks directly to young children and can help foster community within a class.
Life in Motion: Unlikely Ballerina depicts the life of Misty Copeland, the first Black female principal ballerina in the American Ballet Theatre. This young readers edition is a great opportunity for students 3rd - 7th grade to learn about her journey to becoming a history making ballerina.
Nic Stone’s first novel Dear Martin has already made her a staple in many high school classrooms. Her first middle grade novel, Clean Getaway, follows an 11-year-old on a road trip with his grandmother.
“Clean Getaway by Nic Stone will be the foundation of our project, allowing us to build an understanding of civil rights history through a character that our students can see themselves in.” —Ms. Tuttell, The Pride of Southeast Raleigh
The 2023 Newbery & Coretta Scott King Award Winner, Freewater tells the story of 12-year-old Homer and his little sister Ada as they flee their home on Southerland Plantation. An inspiring story of survival, love, bravery, and adventure, this text quickly earns its spot on your classroom’s beloved historical fiction shelf.
The Newberry Award-winning "Freewater" is a text that perfectly complements our curriculum. With a protagonist that faces and overcomes hardship, the text is another wonderful tale of the African Diaspora.” —Mr. Brunson, Award Winning Literature in the Classroom
Jewell Parker Rhodes’s book looks at the school-to-prison pipeline through the story of two biracial brothers — one who presents as Black, and the other who presents as White — and a world that doesn’t treat them equally.
“Providing my readers with the opportunity to read Black Brother, Black Brother as a whole class at home will enable them to view the world through different perspectives, research other connecting events, and have the tough but all-too-necessary conversations required to change the future.” —Mrs. Stegall, Black Brother, Black Brother: A Novel for Racial Equality
Class Act is a companion book to New Kid, winner of the 2020 Newbery Medal, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Kirkus Prize. The graphic novel shows the lives of middle schoolers as they come to terms with the realities of privilege.
Jaqueline Woodson’s novel-in-verse and winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Award Before the Ever After tells the story of a family dealing with the impact professional sports — specifically football — has on Black bodies.
Long Way Down is a graphic novel in verse with illustrations by Danica Novgorodoff that centers the story of a boy who witnessed his brother die in a fatal shooting. As he weighs his options for revenge, he’s visited by people from his past.
“Jason Reynolds speaks to my students, especially my young men who struggle to engage with literature. His work offers a different perspective than the classics that we typically find on the shelves at school. Students deserve to read his books.” —Ms. Rausch, Long Way to Literacy
Lawyer and activist Bryan Stevenson’s book Just Mercy depicts his experience as a young lawyer defending wrongfully incriminated clients in the south. This version, adapted for young adult audiences, shows students a glimpse into the broken US justice system.
Great literature, racial justice, and environmental science combine in this novel featuring a 15-year-old Black girl who builds a powerful cohort of young leaders to fight for survival and discover a new vision for humanity.
“This post-apocalyptic science fiction novel centers around a 15-year-old girl who can feel the pain of others and becomes removed from her California home. Through the character's journey, issues of climate change and social inequity are raised. [This book will allow us to] make cross-cultural connections related to historical and scientific topics. Butler's novel provides students with a real opportunity to discuss issues that are increasingly relevant and troubling.” —Ms. Gionti, Parable of the Sower: Sci-Fi Books Needed
This 2018 fantasy novel and #1 New York Times Bestseller by Nigerian-American novelist Tomi Adeyemi has become a fast classic. First in the Legacy of Orisha series, Children of Blood and Bone incorpoerest Adeyemi’s West African heritage in a story of fighting injustice and discrimination.
“Children of Blood and Bone is an amazing read that explores powerful female characters and social issues that are relevant to the world we live in, as well as magic and adventure that keep readers on the edge of their seats.” —Mrs. Majeski-Turner, Help Amazing Young Women Read Children of Blood and Bone
Looking for a book like The Hate U Give? Angie Thomas’s new novel Concrete Rose revisits the same neighborhood 17 years prior, exploring Black boyhood and manhood through the story of 17-year-old Maverick Carter.
Co-written by award winning novelist Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of The Exonerated Five, Punching the Air is a YA novel written in verse about a wrongfully incarcerated boy.
“In my 13 years as a professional librarian, [Punching the Air] is one of the finest books I have ever read for young adults. All of us will read the book as a learning community, to discuss and explore.” —Mrs. May-Stein, Punch Out Illiteracy in the Time of COVID-19!
Truly no library is complete without Langston Hughes. Written in 1925, “The Weary Blues” is a seminal work of the Harlem Renaissance, and Hughes’s first collection of poetry still resonates today.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’s 2015 nonfiction bestseller weaves personal narrative and history, and is written as a letter to his teenage son. Inspired by the writing of James Baldwin, Coates interrogates the "racist violence that has been woven into American culture."
“Ta-Nehisi Coates makes these real world struggles personal and engaging. What started as a letter to his son, now has grown into a memoir and meditation for all teenagers and adults to understand what others go through.” —Mr. Steinman, Between the World and the Heights
Winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The Nickel Boys follows the story of two boys unjustly sent to a reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.
“The Nickel Boys promises to be a novel which inspires engaged discussion, thoughtful reflection, and even some soul-searching in the high school classroom. To move forward as a diverse country requires us to examine some of the tragedies of our disparate paths. This book provides the opportunity for readers to do just that.” —Ms. Furlong, A New and Necessary Novel: Colson Whitehead in the Classroom
Are you looking for new conversation starters and tools to discuss racial injustice in your classroom? This interactive workbook, co-written by DonorsChoose Board Member W. Kamau Bell, challenges readers to think critically and do the work.
Spot a book you’d love your students to read? Create a project today: www.donorschoose.org/teachers
Straight from teacher experts: 5 tips for successful classroom project on DonorsChoose
The magic of DonorsChoose is that teachers request the materials their students need most — and then boxes of supplies arrive at their classroom door!
Here’s what happens in between: When a teacher posts a request for their classroom, the DonorsChoose community and generous partners provide much of the funding needed. We encourage that teacher to reach out to 1-2 folks from their own community and — with these powers combined— the project gets all the donations it needs and we send the supplies directly to the classroom.
A few simple tweaks can help every classroom project be successful. Teachers at Equity Focus Schools around the country shared their best tips for how they get their projects funded — and how you can, too!
“My main tips for getting projects funded are [to] keep the project total low… and watch for matches that you qualify for!” – Ms. Mattox, kindergarten teacher
Smaller requests are likely to get funded quickly. In fact, projects under $200 have a 90% chance of being funded, while projects over $1000 are funded only about 43% of the time.
Pro tip: Need more than $200 in supplies? Create a couple of projects under $200 — and watch as they’re fully-funded in a snap!
“Create a project when there are 2X matches and funding opportunities.! Advertise the match on social media, even in advance of the project getting approved.” – Dr. Ramos, second grade teacher
Generous people, companies, and foundations often offer matching gifts for projects meeting certain criteria. That means donations to your project can be multiplied instantly! Check out the current match offers to see what kinds of projects they’re funding and how you can qualify.
Pro trip: Bookmark that match offer page and check it frequently. It’s consistently updated with new offers.
“Share, share, share! It always makes a difference. Sometimes I ask friends and family to share rather than give.” – Ms. Douma, high school teacher
“Share, Share, Share, EVERYWHERE! Think outside the box! Is there a group or organization that supports your project’s cause? If so, share with them! When we had a project to help teach CPR to students, I found a senator in another state that supported the same mission and shared my project with him!” – Ms. Leanna, middle school health clinic educator
“Share on social media! Share! Share! Share!” – Ms. Wilson, fourth grade teacher
“Share with people outside of social media too! Print those flyers, and go to small local businesses, your doctor, etc. and ask for support. You would be surprised how many do not know about DonorsChoose, and how many are very happy to donate.” – Ms. C., kindergarten teacher
People want to know about the great work you're doing! Even if they can’t donate, many will be happy to spread the word for you.
Novice tip: Wherever you share your project, be sure to include a link to your DonorsChoose teacher page. It’s a one-stop shop for them to see (and support!) you and your students. Check out more sharing tips in this post.
“I like to write my project in a way that is honest to my experience with my students. I describe what I think would help my students learn and succeed. [I try to] best express the sentiments I feel, and how I think my students would feel, about the potential of [receiving the items].” – Ms. Handler, elementary school teacher
Here are a few other tips for writing your project description:
“In my experience, most projects get funded in time. If I am willing to wait (and even re-post on the rare occasion that it is not funded the first time), the project will eventually be funded. This is particularly true if the price of the project is not too high.” – Ms. Handler, elementary school teacher
Follow these teacher tips and give our community a chance to support you and your students!
Give your students a bright new year with our ultimate list of classroom gift ideas — curated by DonorsChoose, wrapped special for our teachers.
In search of that extra special something for your students this holiday season? The DonorsChoose team has you covered.
We pulled together the ultimate gift guide made just for you and your classroom — curated from our site’s most frequently teacher-requested items. Explore our list below and wrap up this season with a shiny new list of ideas for your next classroom project.
When it comes to giving your students what they need to thrive, DonorsChoose teachers know no supply is too simple or small. Give your classroom the everyday essentials including our most popular office and craft supplies including crayons, cleaning wipes for learning spaces, and dry erase markers.
Need inspiration for your request? Check out Ms. DeCastro’s “Classroom Supplies” project.
Got a classroom full of eager readers? Take a page out your fellow teachers’ book for gift ideas: Books by underrepresented authors for making your classroom as inclusive as can be, magazines for getting them started on their love of nonfiction, or full book sets so your kids can keep up with their favorite characters together.
Need inspiration for your request? Check out Dr. Pargas’ “Book Sets for Emerging Readers” project.
As a teacher, you know the very best environment for learning is one that makes a student feel welcome. A few great gift items for doing exactly that? Try some fun and functional bean bag chairs, comfy rugs for learning, and simple classroom storage items sure to keep things in order.
Need inspiration for your request? Check out Ms. Nolan’s “Cozy Comprehension Center” project.
For any aspiring musicians in your classroom, these gifts will hit the right notes: reeds for that jazzy woodwind sections, tuba mouthpieces for your big brass fans, and music tuners for the entire class.
Need inspiration for your request? Check out Mr. Dojahn’s “We Will Succeed At Our Deeds With New Reeds” project.
Social emotional learning (SEL) is a critical component to curriculums and, if you’re hoping to give the gift of some SEL lessons to your students this season, we have a few popular ideas, including mindful mazes, the Invisible String Picture Book,” as well as “180 days of Emotional Learning for Third Grade.”
Need inspiration for your request? Check out Mrs. Albrecht “A Healthy, Strong Classroom” project.
Physical education is never to be overlooked. Helping students learn teamwork, health, and not to mention fun, here are a few of our most popular “P.E.” gift ideas: Everrich sportive physical education P.E. Fitness Dice Set, Homeroom Physical Education Pack, P.E. cart for carrying all matter of sports equipment and beyond.
Need inspiration for your request? Check out Ms. Negrillo’s “Get 5th Grade Moving!” project.
Critical thinking, problem solving, curiosity, innovation — we could go on about how beneficial STEM education is for students. Some sweet STEM gift ideas for enriching your classroom? Lab equipment like chemistry goggles, STEM kits, and even building block education disc sets for the younger learner.
Need inspiration for your request? Check out Mrs. Lee’s “STEM for Little Engineers” project.
Let’s talk tech. Headphones, laptops, and printers are practical tools that keep classrooms running. It’s no wonder they are the most-requested tech supplies on DonorsChoose right now.
Need inspiration for your request? Check out Ms. Emma’s “Multiple Learning Styles in Literacy!” project.
You heard it all the time: “Learning can and should be fun.” However, for a classroom teacher, this is easier said than done! Bringing some fresh, fun supplies into your room can definitely help. Some sure winners for your classroom include activities like board games, building toys, and fidget toys to help your lessons and students stay on track.
Need inspiration for your request? Check out Ms. Collins’ “Board Games: Bored No More!” project.
The best part about these gifts? Our community of supporters are all ready to help fund any of these items for you and your students right away when you post your next classroom project. Go shopping today and get the supplies your students need for a bright new year ahead.