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Sheryl Lee Ralph, Student Tours, and Education Equity: Our Favorite Moments from Partner Summit 2023


At DonorsChoose, we know that our ability to create a more equitable education system comes from the power of our community. That’s why we set aside time each spring to meet with our most generous partners; we dive deep into our mission and build new connections. This May’s Partner Summit marked our first in-person event since 2019, and as one attendee put it, “Being back with everyone in person feels like a warm hug.”

Over two learning-packed days in Manhattan, our partners met with students and teachers at the High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice, joined our Community Homecoming reception at the iconic IAC Building, and discussed our country’s biggest education challenges and opportunities with thought leaders and educators at Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice.

Here’s a look at some of our favorite moments.

Celebrity advocates ignited us with their passion for education equity

Dr. Sheryl Lee Ralph at the DonorsChoose Community Homecoming Reception next to her quote, "It's something the whole country needs to hear: every child in the United States of America deserves the best education that they can get."

Emmy-award winner, recent doctorate, and beloved Abbott Elementary teacher Dr. Sheryl Lee Ralph surprised teachers and funders (and DonorsChoose founder Charles Best!) when she showed up to our Community Homecoming and shared her fire for supporting educators.

Another one of America’s favorite teachers, LaVar Burton, welcomed partners to the second day of our summit, emphasizing the importance of literacy for students today.

Teachers and students got vulnerable about the challenges and triumphs they face — and how DonorsChoose helps

Yvette Nicole Brown, Joy Hines, Franshesca Chaterpaul, and Erick Odom at Partner Summit above the quote, "I just want [my students] to have the best of everything." —Joy Hines, preK–5th grade teacher

DonorsChoose Board Vice Chair and actress Yvette Nicole Brown interviewed teachers Joy Hines, Franshesca Chaterpaul, and Erick Odom (photographed left to right above). These incredible educators made us laugh and cry in equal measure, sharing stories of the students they’ve supported, the unmet needs their classrooms still face, and how far they’ll go to give the most to their students.

Student drawings and shelves of supplies. Many supplies are labeled as being funded by DonorsChoose.

Students from the High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice blew us away with their poise and professionalism while giving partners a tour of their school. Students pointed out which resources had been funded through DonorsChoose and opened up about how those resources helped them recover from the social and emotional challenges caused by the pandemic.

Industry experts sparked new ideas and connections

Sharif El-Mekki at Partner Summit next to his quote, "A Black child with a single Black teacher is up to 39% less likely to drop out of school."

Sharif El-Mekki, founder and CEO of the Center for Black Educator Development and DonorsChoose collaborator, spoke with Kristina Joye Lyles, DonorsChoose VP, Equity & Impact, about the importance of getting more Black male teachers in the classroom. In addition to telling us about the impact Black teachers have on students, he shared ways that we can invite them into the profession earlier.

Explore our collaboration with El-Mekki to understand the Black male teacher experience. 

Author Adam Alter, another longtime DonorsChoose collaborator, showed us how to navigate stuckness to reach new ideas and innovations through friction audits, and shared ways we can make it easier for people to do good. Partners walked away with a copy of his just-released book Anatomy of a Breakthrough.

Partners built new connections with the DonorsChoose mission and each other

Partner Summit attendees talking with each other

Our partners also had the chance to learn from and connect with each other. We heard insights from CSR and philanthropy experts at College Football Playoff Foundation, Google.org, and Oklahoma City Public School Foundation, and education leaders from the State of Nevada Department of Education and Utah State Board of Education shared how their departments have leveraged DonorsChoose to empower teachers in the wake of COVID-19.

To close out our event, design agency Hyperakt teamed up with Women’s Brain Trust to facilitate an interactive, creative session for attendees, inviting us to think about our goals in new ways and build resonance in communication.


Thank you to all of our attendees, speakers, and hosts for making this Partner Summit one to remember! We’re already excited for next year.

Marketing Agency Lippe Taylor & DonorsChoose Built an Award-Winning Cause Marketing Program for Nature Made ®

Engage for Good honored #TeachHealthy as one of the best cause marketing campaigns of 2021.


The best cause marketing campaigns create tangible, visible change in a cause area strongly aligned with the company’s brand. But as anyone in the field knows, finding the right nonprofit partner with the skills to execute a campaign is harder than it sounds! When marketing agency Lippe Taylor was exploring nonprofits that could advance the goals of their client Nature Made, DonorsChoose stood out.

At DonorsChoose, our teams have 22 years of experience handcrafting cause marketing and corporate social responsibility campaigns with our partners’ marketing and CSR teams, and the agencies that support them. As a national nonprofit that enables public school teachers to request whatever they need for their classrooms, DonorsChoose makes it easy for companies to target their giving — whether that’s supporting environmental science resources, books with diverse characters, or requests from Texas teachers.

The Challenge: Lippe Taylor wanted to craft a unique and impactful cause marketing campaign for client Nature Made 

Nature Made, the leading national vitamin and supplement broadline brand, came to Lippe Taylor to help educate consumers on the benefits of the brand’s immune-support products. Lippe Taylor saw the perfect opportunity to amplify the brand’s ongoing commitment to supporting healthy classrooms. Driven by this purpose, Nature Made was eager to reduce teacher out-of-pocket spending on wellness resources for their students and themselves. 

Lippe Taylor and Nature Made saw an opportunity to accomplish these goals by making a big impact through a DonorsChoose cause marketing partnership; the teachers we serve are highly engaged, and we have a robust fulfillment and procurement system that allows us to swiftly get resources into public schools.

Our team jumped at the opportunity to build a custom campaign that would support teacher and student wellness. When Lippe Taylor approached us, they shared two key goals:

  • Support America’s public-school teachers by equipping them with wellness resources for their classrooms
  • Distribute Nature Made products to teachers across the country at scale

Our team worked closely with Lippe Taylor to develop #TeachHealthy, a custom campaign tailored to align with Nature Made’s purpose. Through #TeachHealthy, we launched a $4 million gift for DonorsChoose teachers and helped get 7 million servings of immune-support products into the hands of teachers.

Our Approach: We combined DonorsChoose fulfillment expertise with Lippe Taylor’s integrated marketing prowess to create a campaign as impactful as it was splashy

Through #TeachHealthy, we implemented a number of funding and PR tactics to achieve Nature Made’s goals.

Funding tactics — executed by DonorsChoose

  • We launched a Health & Wellness Match Offer that doubled and tripled donations to 8,801 Health & Wellness projects on DonorsChoose.
  • We instantly funded 2,030 projects from Los Angeles Unified School District to support teachers in the local community surrounding Nature Made’s headquarters.
  • Teachers had the chance to receive Nature Made ImmuneMax and Vitamin C Gummies along with DonorsChoose funding credits to request resources for their schools.

PR tactics — executed by Lippe Taylor

  • Lippe Taylor coordinated an integration with CBS’ The Talk to announce that every project in Los Angeles United School District was instantly brought to life. DonorsChoose Teacher Board Member Amanda Calzada helped share this news on air.
  • Influencer content launched with two long-term Nature Made social partners to extend the #TeachHealthy message and reach educators in need.
  • #TeachHealthy was also featured through a NowThisNews partnership through a hero video, social ads, banner ads, and sponsorship of an episode of their editorial series, the Common Good.
  • Lippe Taylor produced a mini documentary featuring real teachers from the Los Angeles Unified School District. The resulting #TeachHealthy video was so beloved, it was adapted to a :15 Commercial that appeared on social and broadcast media.
  • Actress Yvette Nicole Brown was enlisted to highlight the importance of the program through social content and conversations with local educators.

The Impact: Business and Cause Success Earned Us a Silver Halo Award in Education from Engage for Good

Overall, #TeachHealthy funded more than 13,700 projects for public school teachers across America. Nature Made was able to distribute nearly 54,000 boxes of ImmuneMAX samples and 138,000 boxes of Vitamin C Gummies samples to schools. Teachers were thrilled to benefit, and jumped to social to celebrate Nature Made.

In addition to the integrations with NowThisNews! and The Talk, the campaign press release was picked up by numerous publications, including Yahoo! Finance and MarketWatch, and Lippe Taylor’s proactive media outreach secured #TeachHealthy coverage in industry publications like Chain Drug Review and Nutritional Outlook.

The campaign resulted in +7% pts increase in Publicity Awareness, +2% pts increase in Consideration, and +4% pts increase in Purchase Intent. Nature Made’s Earned Coverage Score was double that of competitors.

Based off of this success, Engage for Good awarded #TeachHealthy with a Silver Halo Award in Education, honoring this campaign as one of the best cause marketing campaigns of 2021.

7 Items to stock (or start!) your Essentials Stash

Stock up on these 7 everyday necessities to build your own self-care station for your classroom.


This thoughtful project from 5th grade teacher Mrs. Burnette has gone DonorsChoose-viral:

"I want my students to feel safe at school. Part of that is providing them with items they may need in [a pinch]. 

If a girl starts her cycle at school, I want her to know she can come grab what she needs from the SOS bin. 

If a boy is dealing with body odor, I want him to know I have what he needs. 

If their hair tie broke, they misplaced their mask, they forgot to brush their teeth, they have a stain on their shirt, or chapped lips...I want to make sure they feel comfortable, safe, and provided for at school while they are away from home. 

This will also prevent having to call parents to leave jobs and come bring needed items to school."

Teachers across the country are creating projects for their own “Essentials Closet”, “Self-care Station”, or “SOS Bin” – a stash of little, everyday necessities that could un-ruin a school day instantly. 

Here are 7 items to kick off or add to your supply drawer:

1. Deodorant

The one thing most DonorsChoose projects for middle- and high-school essentials kits have in common? Antiperspirant. High school teacher Ms. Bukowski made this observation:

“While many people may think that this is just a project for deodorant, it truly is not. This project will work towards improving social and emotional psyche as well as improving the cleanliness of our whole student body.”

Being able to grab an extra deodorant after a particularly active gym class or for normal daily hygiene can reduce stigma and scent.

2. Hair ties (and more hair ties)

Mrs. Mishima-Donahue is attempting to solve one of the world’s greatest mysteries: where do all the hair ties go? From her fully-funded project:

“My students need items to keep their hair out of their faces and in good condition. Many of my students ask for hair ties because they don't have any at home. I have a small bag in case of emergencies, but this year, I've gone through so many. The brushes and combs will allow them to keep their hair knot free, while hair ties and clips will keep their hair out of their faces.”

A simple $200 project secured 10 hair brushes, 48 combs, 250 hair elastics, 100 barrettes, and more for Mrs. Mishima-Donahue’s students.

3. Toothbrushes and floss

Kids in all grades may need help with access to oral hygiene products. Ms. Denise knows that oral health can bring ‘positive results and invaluable rewards’:

“Hygiene is such an important matter and it can be a source of embarrassment for students whose families struggle to cover the cost of necessities such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, and floss. Help me remove barriers for students so they can unlock all their educational potential!

Add toothbrushes, travel-size toothpastes, mints, dental flossers, and chapsticks to your cart so your students can breathe a little easier.

4. Feminine hygiene products

Access to feminine hygiene products, especially during those critical (and often confusing!) middle-school years can have a real impact on attendance rates, positive social engagement, and feelings of self confidence. Ms. Bare’s ‘Menstruation Station’ gives all menstruating teens at her school access to these critical supplies, privately:

“We need a place where any student, at any time during the school day, can get the menstrual products that she needs so that she does not have to feel stressed or miss class time. I want to create a menstruation station in my lab supply room so that students can confidentially obtain the sanitary supplies that they need.

Sanitary products including pads, tampons, liners, and flushable wipes are a must for those mid- and older-grade essentials closets.

5. Stain remover towelettes

A snacktime or lunch hour incident can be just a momentary glitch in a day if you have the right clean-up supplies on hand. Take it from Mrs. Krieger, the niceties can be necessities:

“It's difficult for students to focus on school when they have other worries on their mind. If we can make their lives a little less stressful by supplying these basic needs and goodies, then it's been a good day.”

Lint rollers, bandaids, eyeglass repair kits, and safety pins can save a student from an unnecessarily tough day, too!

6. Socks

Ms. Sherman recognizes that she can’t expect her students to focus on learning when so many of their basic needs aren’t being met. An extra supply of socks and emergency clothing items can save students from discomfort and embarrassment.

“Our students come to school with problems they bring from home. We can’t fix those, but we can give them a safe, clean place to learn. We can temporarily supply them with clothing and personal hygiene items so that they don’t have to worry about being ridiculed by their peers or being ostracized.”

7. Stress balls

Ms. Posluszny’s SOS Cabinet includes mental health resources as well:

“It goes without saying that 12 year olds face daily struggles and emotional challenges that can without a doubt throw them for a loop or anger them, and could benefit from the ability to pick up a stress ball and decompress while sitting in class. I want students to feel safe and comfortable in my classroom and know that while learning is important, their social and emotional needs are equally as essential.”

Stickers, squishy balls, and fidget toys are ‘essentials’ for some students, too!

The Ultimate SOS Bin 

Check out Ms. Sims’s project Self-Serve Self-Care Station for Junior High Students in the Library to see all of these items rolled up into one full-service resource.

We’re inspired! Are you? Start your own project today for the little items that make the biggest difference in your students’ day!

9 Must-Read Books That Celebrate the LGBTQIA+ Community

Add some pride to your bookshelf with these top teacher-requested books featuring LGBTQIA+ stories and characters.


“The ability for a child to see themselves, a peer, or a family member reflected in a book is priceless. For some, it can be truly life-changing.” —Kieran Slattery, middle school teacher, MA¹

DonorsChoose teachers are known for making sure that their students have access to books that reflect their own identity and experience and for helping them understand identities and experiences that aren’t their own. All year round, we see amazing projects centered on making classrooms more inclusive. We pulled together a list of their most requested books with LGBTQIA+ stories and characters so you can add some pride to your own bookshelf — or the shelf of a kid in your life — all year round.

Elementary Books

Julián Is a Mermaid, by Jessica Love

One day, riding home on the subway with his abuela, Julián notices three women dressed as mermaids. He is mesmerized by their hair and their beautifully colored costumes and headdresses. When he gets home, Julián decides that he wants to become a mermaid too and uses a potted fern, curtains, and all his creativity to make his costume. 

What will Abuela think when she sees the mess Julián has made — and more importantly, what will she think when she sees how he is dressed? Full of love and joy, this beautifully drawn story book is about inclusion, acceptance, and being yourself.

Key themes: Self-love, celebrating individuality, freedom of gender expression

A Family Is a Family Is a Family, by Sara O’Leary

This beautifully illustrated picture shows that what makes your family different is also what makes them special. It tells the stories of families with just one child, lots of children, and adopted and foster children. It also shows that kids can be raised by a single parent, divorced parents, same-sex parents, interaccial parents, parents in a wheelchair, or their grandparents. This book is unique because it focuses on what the characters love about their families; for example, one child says her moms love to sing. 

Full of warmth and whimsy, this book helps kids realize that all families that love and cherish each other are special.

Key themes: Family, diversity, feeling different, love

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, by Rob Sanders

This Junior Library Guild Selection traces the life of the Gay Pride Flag through the struggles and victories it encountered to get to it’s place in today’s culture. Young readers will learn about Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay politicians, and Gilbert Baker, artist, gay rights activist and designer of the rainbow flag. 

This deeply moving story will empower young readers to explore the concepts of identity, equality, and pride in a simple and accessible way.

Key themes: Activism, equality, identity, cultural symbols, hope

Middle School Books

Drama, by Raina Telgemeier

Callie and her friends are working hard to bring their middle school’s spring musical to life. Callie wants to be an actress, but she can’t act or sing. So instead, she’s the set designer — and she is determined to create a Broadway-worthy set for the performance. However, with drama on and off the stage, friendship struggles, crushes, and two cute brothers thrown into the mix, Callie isn’t sure she can pull it off!

If you were into theater at school, this graphic novel will have you reliving the joy and frustrations of being in 8th grade and falling in and out of love with ease.

Key themes: Friendship, family, sexual preference, overcoming obstacles

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake

After a tornado destroys their home, Ivy Aberdeen and her family struggle to piece their lives back together. Living in a small hotel room with her four siblings and parents, Ivy feels overlooked. Without her journal to confide in and no privacy, Ivy doesn’t know who she can talk to about the feelings she is developing for a girl at school.

This book falls under the category of “I’m jealous of people who get to read this for the first time”. Ivy is a strong-willed, relatable character who faces the confusing questions of “who am I?” and “what should I feel?” with courage and perseverance and comes out stronger for it.

Key themes: Family, first love, navigating through unexpected challenges

The Best Man, by Richard Peck 

Archer Magill’s life is pretty great. He lives in a nice, leafy suburb, he has supportive friends, and gets to hang out with his role models: his dad, his grandfather and his uncle. Through Archer’s viewpoint we get to see him grow up, start a new school, face a death in the family, and realize that his favorite family member is gay AND about to marry his favorite teacher. 

Richard Peck, who was a middle-school teacher, knows what it’s like to be in the sixth grade; there are insufferable know-it-alls, kids who cry, and kids who get picked on, but it’s also pretty great — just like Archer’s life. If you want a warm blanket of a book that will leave you feeling good, this is a must read!

Key themes: Family relationships, small-town life, gay marriage

High School Books

Clap When You Land,  by Elizabeth Acevedo

Sisters Camino and Yahaira Rios were born three months apart, but live in different countries and don’t know of each other’s existence…. Until their father dies in a plane crash. As the sister’s deal with their father’s loss, they realize that he wasn’t the man they thought he was and find that they will have to fight to keep their dreams alive.

This novel-in-verse is guaranteed to bring its readers to tears, brimming with heartbreak, grief and love.

Key themes: Loss of a parent, sexual assault, grief and anger, forgiveness, hope

Death Prefers Blondes, by Caleb Roehrig

By day, teenage socialite Margo Manning spends her time soaking in the California sun and shaking the paparazzi. But by night, she and her drag queen accomplices dodge cameras and armed security guards to pull off high-stakes burglaries. Life is good, until one day a job to end all jobs puts everything she holds dear at risk. 

Described as Ocean’s 8 meets RuPaul’s Drag Race, this book has mystery, romance, action, family drama, and lots of laughs.

Key themes: Rebellion, friendship, coming to terms with one’s identity

Picture Us in the Light, by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Danny Cheng is a high school senior, a talented artist, and just got into the school of his dreams. As Danny worries about being apart from his best friend Henry, he grapples with the one-year anniversary of a tragedy within the friendship group and unearths family secrets that will rock him to the core. 

Through this story, Kelly Loy Gilbert shows the reader that life is full of complexities and beauty; bad things, friendships change, and our family structure can fall apart. But through that hardship and loss, we find love, joy, art, and if we’re lucky… ourselves.

Key themes: Sexuality, socioeconomic status, immigration, friendship, mental illness, child/parent relationships


You can help teachers bring these titles and more into their classrooms by supporting one of these inspiring classroom projects curated by our LGBTQIA+ staff and allies

1. Kieran Slattery quoted in Scholastic’s Raise a Reader Blog

Teacher Appreciation Week 2023 on DonorsChoose

DonorsChoose has a week full of surprises for Teacher Appreciation Week!


Teaching right now is so many things: challenging, joyful, rewarding, stressful, rewarding. This Teacher Appreciation week, the DonorsChoose community rallied over $9.6 million for 25,642 teacher requests. Over 49,000 people from across the United States showed up to give. What a week!

DonorsChoose is the nonprofit classroom funding site for public school teachers. 4 out of 5 US public schools in the United States have had at least one teacher request materials through the site.

Here’s how Teacher Appreciation Week unfolded this year.


On the first day thousands of folks flooded the site to start giving, and a couple of partners kicked the week off right:

  • GM doubled every single donation to teacher requests for technology.
  • The Dalio Foundation doubled donations to every project from teachers in Connecticut!


Teacher Appreciation Day was the biggest day of funding of the week! The SONIC Foundation made sure every donation to every teacher’s project on DonorsChoose received at least a 50% match. 

Plus, Emmy-winning actress Sheryl Lee Ralph dropped by Good Morning America to shine a light on DonorsChoose teachers! Watch the inspiring clip on GMA’s site.


A flurry of partners are jumped in midweek to give people an a chance to make an even bigger difference for teachers:

  • An anonymous family who cares about teachers is doubling donations to every teacher at an Equity Focus School who has never had a project funded on DonorsChoose. 
  • General Motors is doubling donations to requests for STEM materials from teachers in rural communities. 
  • Neukom Family Foundation is tripling donations to Racial Justice and Representation projects. 
  • Great Wolf Lodge is doubling donations to select projects in California, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Kansas. 
  • Chevron is doubling donations to STEM projects from Equity Focus Schools in select communities. 
  • Optimum is doubling donations to every request for STEM materials from schools on Long Island.
  • Kleenex is doubling donations to projects requesting Kleenex products.


In one of the most heartwarming surprises of the week, an anonymous partner doubled every donation to projects serving students with disabilities. Plus, DonorsChoose teachers also got heartfelt shoutouts from none other than Whoopi Goldberg on The View, radio legend Elvis Duran on Z100, and actor Yvette Nicole Brown on Instagram.


The week finished off on a high note, as donors flooded the site to take advantage of a special offer. When each donor gave $5 to a classroom project and entered the promo code FRIDAY, their donation was instantly doubled. Thank you to all the donors who showed up to give a project a little bit of love before the week was out!

Support Student Mental Health Through the Be There Certificate, A Free Resource from Born This Way Foundation

This Mental Health Awareness Month, gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to safely support anyone who may be struggling with their mental health.

Education Leaders

Our world has changed significantly in the last four years. Young people faced significant challenges, a long-lasting pandemic that asked of them physical isolation, loneliness, economic downturns, and de-globalization. Young people also used every single platform and space possible to passionately advocate for a better world for themselves and their communities. Through this, more and more people realize prioritizing mental health is a key to navigating global issues, leaning into hope and resilience, and building solutions that work for our most vulnerable populations. Mental Health Awareness Month has become an essential time to raise awareness, share accessible resources, and eliminate stigma and encourage people to reach out to support themselves and each other.

The theme for 2023’s Mental Health Awareness Month is "Hope and Resilience: Mental Health for All." This theme highlights how eager young people are to build a kinder and braver world, and how mental health affects us all no matter our backgrounds or experiences. 

Young people are a force of change, and we benefit from following their leadership as they demand safer, affirming, validating, and resource-rich spaces within which they can thrive. Born This Way Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, understands deeply the importance of working with and for young people through programs including the storytelling platform Channel Kindness, its Advisory Board made up of a global group of young leaders age 15-24, and its free peer support online mental health course, the Be There Certificate

Get started

Created by Jack.org in partnership with Born This Way Foundation, the Be There Certificate is a free, self-paced learning experience designed to increase mental health literacy and provide the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to safely support a young person and anyone who may be struggling with their mental health. Young people helped create and inform the program, and it’s available in English, French, and Spanish. Using Be There’s 5 Golden Rules to support others (and a sixth golden rule to support self), the Be There Certificate provides a simple, actionable framework on how to recognize when someone might be struggling with their mental health, your role in supporting that person, and how to connect them to the help they deserve.

Using accessible resources like the Be There Certificate helps us show up with more compassion toward ourselves and for our communities. If we’ve learned anything these past few years, it’s that we need each other. 


Starting in 2018, Born This Way Foundation has given more than $500,000 to teachers seeking mental health resources through DonorsChoose. In total, they’ve helped fund 2,300 requests for resources for public educators across the country, bringing us closer to a nation where teachers have all the tools they need to support their students’  needs.

Are you a teacher in need of resources to support your students’ mental health? Request what you need today.

Are you a donor looking to get mental health resources into classrooms? Check out these requests from teachers.

Teacher Appreciation Week Perks For Educators

At DonorsChoose, we appreciate teachers all year round, but from May 8 to May 12, the nation will unite to show thanks for teachers’ hard work and dedication. Teachers, in addition to the DonorsChoose week of surprises and funding opportunities, check out these giveaways and deals you won’t want to miss!


At DonorsChoose, we appreciate teachers all year round, but from May 8 to May 12, the whole nation will unite to show thanks for teachers’ hard work and dedication. Teachers, in addition to the DonorsChoose week of surprises and funding opportunities, check out these giveaways and deals you won’t want to miss from companies that are cheering for you!

Deals and Giveaways from DonorsChoose Partners

LOFT: 15% off purchases

Our partners at LOFT are making sure that your teacher #OOTD (outfit of the day) is on point! They are offering 15% off purchases made when presenting a teacher ID. For more details about this deal, inquire at any LOFT or LOFT outlet location. Exclusions apply.

Today through to May 12, LOFT is donating $25 to select never-before-funded teachers with live projects, up to $25,000.

Great Wolf Lodge: 40% off reservations 

If you’re an educator who loves to travel, this one's for you! From May 8-14 all educators can receive 40% savings on online bookings for any Great Wolf Lodge location. Use the code “TEACHER” when making reservations. This offer applies to stays through September 21.

Great Wolf Lodge is also celebrating teachers by donating $10 (up to $100,000 total) to DonorsChoose for every reservation made during this promotion.

More Deals and Giveaways

Learning A-Z: $10 off orders (Teacher Appreciation Week exclusive)

Learning A-Z is offering teachers $10 off any order of their extensive collection of flexible curriculum resources. Use code TEACHER from May 8-12 to unlock this deal!

Insomnia Cookies: Free 6-pack of cookies with $5 purchase (Teacher Appreciation Week exclusive)

Insomnia Cookies has a very sweet offer for teachers, school staff, and nurses: one free 6-pack of classic cookies with $5 in-store purchase from May 5-12! Proof of employment required – but Insomnia Cookies includes everyone: daycare, preschool, K-12 or higher ed educators or staff members employed by a school or daycare.

Potbelly: Free cookie or drink with purchase of entrée (Teacher Appreciation Week exclusive)

Potbelly is giving teachers a well-deserved treat by offering a free cookie or regular-sized soft drink with the purchase of an entrée. Teachers can choose from multiple options, including the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie, the Sugar Cookie, and the Chocolate Brownie Cookie.

Costco: $20 shop card when signing up for a Costco membership (year-round offer)

Buying in bulk? Teachers know a thing or two about that! To show their gratitude, Costco is giving teachers a $20 digital Costco shop card with a new membership.

Michaels: 15% off total purchase (year-round offer)

Your students’ craft projects (and your DIY dreams) are closer than ever with a 15% discount on your total purchase. To qualify, teachers must have completed the educator verification process through the Michaels Rewards Program. It’s worth the sign-up, because this deal is available all year round!

Hanes: 10% off all orders (year-round offer)

Every day is Teacher Appreciation Day at Hanes! This year-round offer gives all members of the educational community, including retired educators, an additional 10% off at hanes.com. This is the one-stop shop for clothing basics – whether for hand-painting preschool graduation tees, stocking an essentials closet for teens’ self-care, or anything in between.

Headspace: Free access to classroom mental health resources (year-round offer)

Here’s a calm, happy, and stress–free offer: Headspace provides free, year-round access to Headspace for Educators, designed specifically for K-12 (primary-secondary) teachers and supporting staff. Classroom guides, meditation tips, posters, and student resources are all available free of charge.

Eyemart Express: 20% off (year-round offer)

Teachers, administrators, and school district employees qualify for an everyday 20% off discount. Helpful for the teachers who want to continue seeing the smartboard as well as their students do!

Cole Haan: 20% discount for teachers (year-round offer)

Cole Haan calls it extra credit, we call it awesome! Some school days require the comfy shoes — some call for the professional footwear. All the functional and fashionable options are 20% off for teachers at Cole Haan, all year.

Cheers to celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week this week — and every week!

Creating Surprise & Delight: Thea Foundation Fully Funds Arkansas Art & Music Projects

By hand picking projects, Thea Foundation maintains a grassroots connection at a statewide scale


Arkansas teacher Mrs. Weaver needed to fill her art supply closet so that her Kindergarteners could express themselves through hands-on, engaging activities. She turned to DonorsChoose to request all the basics — glue sticks, oil pastels, crayons, pencil sharpeners, and more. Thea Foundation, an arts in education foundation, spotted that Mrs. Weaver’s school had recently been struck by a strong tornado and swooped in to fully fund her project. That same day, DonorsChoose staff ordered Mrs. Weaver’s resources and shipped them her way. Mrs. Weaver shared her gratitude:

“We are elated to be able to start using some of our favorite supplies again and even add some new ones to our closet! Without donors like you, we would be limited in what we had access to because of funding. Thanks for supporting my classroom!”

Expanding grassroots giving through DonorsChoose

When Thea Foundation was first founded in 2001, the team would drive to local art stores, buy supplies for teachers, and deliver those resources to Arkansas schools. This strategy allowed for a deep, hands-on connection between the foundation and local schools, but it wasn’t easily scalable. Thea Foundation sought a way to streamline their funding and fulfillment while making sure the resources they purchased reflected what teachers and students needed most.

In 2011, Thea Foundation began partnering with DonorsChoose and have since given more than $500,000 to art and music supply requests from Arkansas teachers. To retain that community-centric, hands-on ethos, the Foundation team hand-picks projects to support throughout the year, giving 50% of the total project cost through a self-serve funding account.

Fully funding projects to celebrate Arkansas teachers 

In 2023, Thea Foundation wanted to do something above and beyond for teachers, recognizing the incredible challenges educators and students have faced over the past few years. In a single day, they fully funded 70 Arkansas art projects, guaranteeing teachers quick success and letting teachers and students know that their community is rooting for their success.

"Thea Foundation is incredibly grateful for the service Donors Choose provides the teachers of Arkansas. Having access to such a powerful information-sharing and money-raising platform allows organizations like ours to put the money we raise from our concerned donor base directly into the hands of public school educators. Educators who find themselves continuously on the precipice of budget cuts or facing the hollow challenges of unfunded mandates. Our growth with DonorsChoose has produced a likely corollary, growth in teacher effectiveness, not just in K-12 art programs, but in a variety of classrooms across the entire state of Arkansas." 

—Nick Leopoulos, Thea Foundation Executive Director


Want to learn more about how we can target funding to support schools in the communities you care about most? Reach out to us!

“Challenging, stressful… and rewarding”: What it’s like being a teacher in 2023

Over 2,600 DonorsChoose teachers shared what teaching is like in 2023. Learn more about the challenges and amazing moments that they see everyday.

Education Leaders

What is it like being a teacher right now? The nationwide network of DonorsChoose public school teachers knows better than anyone. Over 2,600 DonorsChoose teachers helped us answer that question by sharing some of the challenges they face, and what keeps them coming back to the classroom every day. 

Classroom Costs On The Rise

This school year, teachers continued to reach into their own wallets to buy classroom supplies and resources for their students. On average, teachers have spent $687 of their own money in the last year to stock their classroom.

$687: Average amount teachers reported spending out-of-pocket on classroom supplies this year

For a majority of teachers, spending has remained the same or increased since before the pandemic; 40% of teachers report they’re spending more on classroom supplies than they had prior to the pandemic, and 36% reported spending roughly the same. 

A pie chart titled "Post-Pandemic Teacher Out-of-Pocket Spending" 40% spending more | 36% spending the same | 11% spending less | 10% not teacher before 2020 | 3% not sure

These rising costs combined with low teacher salaries in many communities have driven teachers to seek out supplemental income from second jobs. One in four teachers reported working 10 or more hours per week at an alternate job to support their teacher salary, and 8% of teachers reported working more than 20 extra hours a week at another job.

A pie chart titled, "Weekly hours teachers spend at alternate job(s) to supplement teacher salary" None: 50% | 1-4 hours: 11% | 5-9 hours: 13% | 10-14 hours: 13% | 15-19 hours: 5% | 20+ hours: 8%

These challenges leave some teachers choosing between their passion for the profession and the reality of supporting themselves and their families. One Indiana first grade teacher shared, “Teaching is the only profession I ever saw myself having, but with the increasing demands and behaviors with a small salary, I find myself trying to decide if remaining a teacher long term is an obtainable goal.”

“Teaching is the only profession I ever saw myself having, but with the increasing demands and behaviors with a small salary, I find myself trying to decide if remaining a teacher long term is an obtainable goal.” - First grade teacher from Indiana

Teachers’ Needs Go Back To Basics

Teachers most need the basics — both for learning, and for student wellbeing. 58% of teachers reported needing basic supplies like paper, pencils, and cleaning supplies. The second most common need among teachers was personal items for students; 54% said they needed items like snacks, warm clothing, and hygiene items for their students.

A bar chart titled, "Teacher resource needs". Basic classroom supplies: 58% | Student food/clothing/hygiene items: 54% | Educational games: 46% | Classroom furniture: 44% | Arts and craft supplies: 43% | Books: 40% | Technology: 33%

The other thing teachers need? More teachers. Three in four teachers reported that their school was somewhat or severely understaffed.

Pie chart titled, "How teachers describe staffing at their school." Severely understaffed: 19% | Somewhat understaffed: 56% | Right number of teachers: 23% | Somewhat overstaffed: 1% | I don't know: 1%

Nearly all teachers reported being concerned about teacher mental health and burnout, which often stems from teacher, staff, and supply shortages. A Connecticut pre-K teacher shared, “Teacher and staff shortages across subject areas make it difficult to meet everyone’s needs and causes stress on those who try to pick up the extra workload, leading to burnout and more teachers leaving the profession.” 

“Teacher and staff shortages across subject areas make it difficult to meet everyone’s needs and causes stress on those who try to pick up the extra workload, leading to burnout and more teachers leaving the profession.” - A Pre-K teacher from Connecticut

Bigger Hurdles for Teachers of Color, Teachers at Historically Underfunded Schools

As part of our Equity Focus at DonorsChoose, we pay close attention to two groups of teachers who often overcome unique challenges in the profession: teachers of color, and teachers at “Equity Focus Schools” where 50% of students identify as Black, Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander, or multiracial, and 50% of student come from low-income households. Historically, Equity Focus Schools have been the most underfunded, and teachers of color continue to be underrepresented in the teaching profession. 

Teachers of color and teachers at Equity Focus Schools encountered even greater challenges than the average teacher who responded to the survey. Teachers of color report spending an average of $714 of their own money on school supplies, and teachers at Equity Focus Schools report spending an average of $718 — both higher than the average of $687. 

A bar chart titled, "Average teacher out-of-pocket spending this year." All teachers: $687 | Teachers of color: $714 | Teachers at Equity Focus Schools: $718

More teachers of color and teachers at Equity Focus Schools report that they’re spending more of their own money on school supplies post-pandemic.

A bar chart titled, "Teachers spending more out-of-pocket post-pandemic."  Equity Focus School Teachers: 42% | Non-Equity Focus School Teachers: 38% | Teachers of Color: 45% | White teachers: 37%

Teachers of color reported more often than White teachers that they were working a second job to support their teacher salary, and teachers at Equity Focus Schools were more likely to be working a second job than teachers at other schools. 

Bar chart titled, "Teachers working alternate job(s) to supplement teacher salary."  Equity Focus School Teachers: 53% | Non-Equity Focus School Teachers: 45% | Teachers of Color: 55% | White teachers: 46%

For Many Teachers, Passion Prevails

When asked how they’d describe being a teacher this school year, the most common responses were “challenging,” “stressful”... and “rewarding.” Despite a number of obstacles that continue to make teaching a challenging profession, teachers remain committed to their calling. 59% of teachers reported they planned to continue teaching for 10 or more years. 

59% (bold big type) Teachers reporting they intend to continue teaching for 10+ years

A high school teacher from Michigan shared, “I know that my passion for education is contagious, and it is the best gift that I can give.”

“I know that my passion for education is contagious, and it is the best gift that I can give.” — High School Teacher, Michigan

“Despite being overwhelmed, I love my job,” one Virginia elementary school teacher told us. “I love seeing my gems get excited when they have mastered content. It takes a SPECIAL person to be an educator!”

For many teachers, this joy keeps them going. According to an elementary school teacher from Utah, “I'm proud to be someone who gets to pour into this next generation and have an impact on the lives of our precious children. I love to see their joy in discovering something new! It's like nothing else when a child has worked so hard at something and the lights finally turn on for them. When they feel proud of their own accomplishments and celebrate those of their classmates, I know I'm doing something of value. It feels great!”

For so many teachers in the DonorsChoose community, having a project funded keeps money in their pockets and brings joy to their classrooms. A high school teacher from Wisconsin shared, “Having a project funded by DonorsChoose has been one of the highlights of this school year. I was amazed at how quickly a community member selected my proposal, and how easy the process was to complete. Not only did this experience boost my spirits, but my students were touched that a stranger went out of their way to help our class.”

According to a Louisiana middle school teacher, “It has been an expensive and stressful year with shortages in supplies. Getting help from DonorsChoose has helped relieve some of that stress.”

“It has been an expensive and stressful year with shortages in supplies. Getting help from DonorsChoose has helped relieve some of that stress.” —  Middle School Teacher, Louisiana

Even simple classroom improvements have students jumping for joy. “My most recent project for flexible seating got funded and I told the kids today,” shared a high school teacher from Kansas. “They were clapping their hands and jumping around, happy about getting some seats that feel comfortable for them.”

How Can You Help?

Interested in showing your appreciation for teachers? Start on DonorsChoose by making a donation to a teacher request that matters to you. You’ll hear directly from the teacher you help about how you’re impacting their students. And good news… your donations are tax deductible, and some donations are eligible for matches from our partners

Are you a teacher looking to stock your classroom? Get started on DonorsChoose!

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the Classroom

AAPI Heritage Month is a time to embrace and highlight the AAPI community. Check out the exciting ways that teachers are celebrating this month!


Throughout the country, moments like Black History Month (February), Women's History Month (March), and this month’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month help teachers to celebrate their students’ identities. AAPI Heritage Month is a time to embrace and highlight the diversity, contributions, and individuals that make up the AAPI community. Here are a few projects from DonorsChoose teachers that celebrate this month in exciting ways!

Representation Matters 

Throughout her six years as a teacher, Ms. Ullman has used DonorsChoose to fill her classroom library with books that tell stories from different points of view. For AAPI Heritage Month, she set up the “Mirrors and Windows in Literature” project to add books that focus on AAPI stories and experiences to her shelves.  She hopes to:

  • help her AAPI students to build confidence in their identities
  • give students of other backgrounds the opportunity to read about cultures outside their own.

From biographies to historical fiction, from graphic novels to picture books, Ms. Ullman works with her students to find books that spark their imagination and make them hunger for more.

See Ms. Ullman’s project

Doing it for the Culture 

Music has a way of connecting us all. Through her “Ukuleles For Our Children Of The World project, Mrs. Cooper is using a class set of ukuleles to help her students connect.

“The school has a large Pacific Islander population, and this resource could help in sharing their expertise and community's culture with all the kids” — Mrs. Cooper, Grades 3-5, WA

Many of Mrs. Cooper’s students already play the ukulele thanks to the traditional teaching they receive at home. By requesting a class set, she is hoping students can demonstrate their musical skills with their classmates while sharing what they love about their culture. 

See Mrs. Cooper’s project

Meeting your Idols

Asian American history is full of beauty and resilience. Through her Fashion and Asian-American Pride and Resilience project, Ms. Hinds invited TED Talk speaker Christina Chiu to share her personal experiences with Asian American racism along with insights from her career in fashion, writing, and advocacy.

"Ms. Chiu was inspiring and uplifting to students and faculty alike, who said they came away from her talk with a deeper understanding of racism as well as the power of finding your voice and inner beauty." — Ms. Hinds, Grades 9-12, NY

Thanks to virtual classroom visits, students in Ms. Hind’s library got to connect directly with Ms. Chiu and her powerful story.

See Ms. Hinds’ project

The members of Mr. Blomberg’s Asian Culture Club are just starting their lifelong journey into self-discovery and acceptance. They partnered with Mr. Blomberg to request tickets to the Boston Asian-American Film Festival, an event highlighting Asian filmmakers and actors covering themes like immigration, assimilation, acculturation, and discrimination.

 “While the films and food were beloved, it was the presence of a strong, artistic, self-realized Asian-American woman that brought the energy to the students." - Mr. Blomberg, Grades 9-12, MA

While at the festival, students enjoyed the food and the music, but it was the films and the filmmakers that made an impression: they even got to meet the festival’s creative producer and founding director!

See Mr. Blomberg’s project

Our teachers love celebrating their students. How are you celebrating identity in your classroom?

Be sure to follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook for more project inspiration!

Teacher Appreciation Week: 5 Minutes to a Funded Project

Use these tips and customizable templates to spread the word about your DonorsChoose project for Teacher Appreciation Week!


Teacher Appreciation Week (May 8-12) is on the horizon and you better believe that  means the DonorsChoose team will be going all out. But first things first: Because teachers are putting in unparalleled levels of dedication and time all year, we wanted to show our gratitude and make your life just a little easier. That’s why we’ve created a few quick, customizable resources for sharing out your DonorsChoose project this Teacher Appreciation Week. 

We’ve found that teachers who take one of the key 5-minute sharing actions below have a 92% success rate. (Seriously.) So go ahead and get started. Choose one of the 5 minute actions below and your project will be fully funded in no time!

Option A: The Social Up

Before Teacher Appreciation Week begins, pick out a few favorite graphics from our collection  — then share at least twice on social media throughout the week. And don’t worry, you can choose the social platform and schedule that works for you. Whether it’s 1 Facebook and 1 TikTok post on May 2 (Teacher Appreciation Day), Instagram stories peppered throughout the week, or a couple of solid tweets. Whatever you’re most comfortable with is the way to go!

Feeling extra excited about these graphics? You can create your own custom graphic using the Canva templates below:

4 social media graphics laid out in a scatter formation
Download one of these graphics to use on social media

Option B: The Group Chat Go-Getter

Social media not your thing? Take your project to the group chat instead. You can customize, copy, and paste the message we drafted for you below into a text or an email thread with 3-5 friends. Make sure to personalize your message — and include your project link so your circle can easily support their favorite teacher (you!).

Hi friends! It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and I want to give my students [robotics kits! new books! markers that actually work!] so I posted a project on DonorsChoose. For today only, all donations are doubled!! I’d be so grateful if you would make a small donation or share this link with others: [your project link]. Thank you a million times from me and my [28 little Einsteins-in-training]!

Option C: The "Easy as 1-2-3"

If you want a way to let your friends, family, and wider network know about your project, consider this option your Teacher Appreciation Week triumvirate. Complete these three steps together to give your project the momentum it needs:

  1. Send a personalized email to one person who cares about you and your classroom, asking them to chip in if they can. Include your project link!
  2. Post 1x about your project on your favorite social media platform. Include your project link!
  3. Send one group email to celebrate the special week. Did we mention yet to include your project link?

    Not sure who to reach out to? Get some ideas here!

Whichever approach you choose, know that your 5 minutes will be well spent in sharing out the awesome work you and your students are doing. And remember, a warm hello, your project link, and a giant thank you goes a long way!

Must-Read Books for Celebrating AAPI Characters and Stories

These top picks from DonorsChoose teachers will add some AAPI representation to your shelves!


“Whether reading about Hawaiian traditions in Ohana Means Family or about the relationship between a young girl and her grandmother in Grandmother's Visit, my students will not only be exposed to cultures they may not be familiar with, but also discover that there are many things we all have in common.”—Mrs. Lew, Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month With Diverse Books!

There is a magic that happens when students read books with diverse characters and by diverse authors; they don’t just step into the story, they become immersed in the lives, loves, and life lessons of the characters. Check out these top picks from DonorsChoose teachers and staff to add to your students’ (or your own!) reading list.

Elementary Books

The Name Jar,  by Yangsook Choi

Follow Unhei as she sets out on her first day at a new school. Any student (or even adult) can relate to the very specific brand of nerves that comes with starting a new school: Will I fit in? Will the other kids like me? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei worries that her name will make her stand out in a classroom of American kids. This book helps to start a conversation about how it feels to be different and the ways in which we can respond when we notice that someone else is different to us.

Key themes: Difference, identity, fitting in

Under My Hijab, by Hena Khan

In this lyrical story, Pakistani-American author Henna Khan showcases and celebrates the lives and diversity of Muslim American women. With catchy rhymes and beautiful images, Under My Hijab effortlessly answers questions that non-Muslim readers might have about the hijab, while giving young Muslim girls a positive message about their decision to wear a hijab when they grow up.

Key themes: Self-expression, breaking down stereotypes

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners, by Joanna Ho

As a young girl looks at her classmates’ “big eyes” with “lashes like lace trim on ballgowns”, she notices that our physical differences make us all unique and special. Her own eyes, “glow like warm tea” and “kiss in the corners” just like her mother’s and grandmother’s. With beautiful images and poetry, this book is a heartwarming mix of self-love and empowerment.

Key themes: Self-love, confidence, family and tradition

Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes, by Eva Chen

Juno is late for school, but first she needs to find her favorite running-hopping-skipping-muddy-puddle-jumping shoes! When writing this fantastical and magical story of shoes, Eva Chen was very aware that kids need to see themselves in books: “I think representation and diversity begins at a very young age. You might not be conscious of it completely until you see more people that look like you. When my daughter first saw the book, she kept asking me, ‘Is that me, Mommy? Is that me?’ Juno is meant to be mixed race so it was definitely inspired by my daughter all around.”

Key themes: Self-esteem, girl power, female role models

Middle School Books

Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhhà Lai

Based on the author's experiences, this free verse novel tells the story of ten-year-old Hà as she and her family flee South Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon in 1975. Speaking no English, Hà and her family leave their missing father and arrive in Alabama where they are met with racism and bullying. This book shows the love, compassion and determination that it takes to build a new home.

Key themes: Hope, determination, compassion

American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang

In this New York Times bestselling graphic novel, Gene Luen Yang weaves the Chinese legend of the Monkey King, known as Sun Wukong, into the stories of Jin Wang, Danny, and Chin-Kee. As these boys navigate growing up in America whilst having Chinese ancestry, they deal with stereotypes, isolation, and what it means to straddle two cultures at once. This graphic novel has funny moments, but allows kids to understand the pain that comes with being ostracized and misunderstood.

Key themes: Racism, identity, pride

Front Desk, By Kelly Yang

Ten-year-old Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Loosely based on Kelly Yang’s life, this book showcases the family, friendships, and perseverance that help immigrant families face the struggles and hardships that often come their way. As a winner of the 2019 Asian / Pacific American Award for Children's Literature, this book mirrors the ups and downs of living as an immigrant kid in America.

Key themes: Perseverance, racism, social justice

Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee

This National Book Award finalist was written by Korean-American author, Min Jin Lee. It tells the story of Sunja, a Korean teenager who falls for a wealthy stranger and travels to Japan to create a new life for herself. The story unfolds during the Japanese occupation of Korea and World War II and shows the diverse cultures and histories that make up the term “Asian”. 

Key themes: Love, sacrifice, ambition, loyalty

High School Books

The Sympathizer: A Novel, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

This Pulitzer-Prize winning novel tells the story of an American educated Franco-Vietnamese communist spy in the South Vietnamese intelligence department. Our team member who recommended this book said it was “the first book that made me feel like the narrator understands how Americans in the USA view the Asian diaspora”. This book allows the reader to better understand the public and private legacies of the Vietnam War.

Key themes: Love, betrayal, friendship

The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

This staff favorite follows four Chinese mothers and their Chinese-American daughters, exploring their complex relationships and the way that cultural differences can lead to a lack of understanding. This novel expands world views, while enriching and complicating the notions of self and other.

Key themes: Friendship among women, relationships between mothers and daughters, immigrant identity

Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri

This Pulitzer Prize winning collection of short stories was one of our staff members’ favorites during high school. For anyone who has ever felt like an outsider, these stories about Indian immigrants and their quest for love beyond the barriers of geography and generations will allow you to see their flaws and their redeeming humanity, and will make you feel like you are not alone.

Key themes: Migration, belonging, family, identity


Help celebrate AAPI Heritage Month by supporting some inspiring classroom projects curated by our employee resource group, RAD (Representing Asians at DonorsChoose).

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