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DonorsChoose UNwrapped 2023

People, places, and projects to support this holiday season.


So far in 2023, people across the country have come together to give millions of dollars in school supplies to public school classrooms through DonorsChoose. But for teachers and kids, the year isn’t wrapped up yet. They're still hard at work in classrooms that need your support. 

If you’re looking to donate to a classroom project this season, but aren’t sure where to give, you’re in the right place.  We crunched the giving numbers to bring you the projects, people, and places that need support before 2023 draws to a close.

The 5 most-needed school supplies

A few basics top the list this year by quite a wide margin. Here’s the countdown:

  1. New books
  2. Disinfecting Wipes
  3. Headphones
  4. Glue Sticks
  5. Paper

Mrs. Blincoe, in her project Do You Copy?, sheds some light on why paper in particular is such a crucial, recurring need:

“When asked, "What do I need the most in my classroom?" every year my answer is the same… copy paper. We need it for Reading Workshops, Math Workshops, tests, homework, parent reminders OH MY!”

Never-before-funded teachers

Meet the teachers who are putting their faith in the DonorsChoose community for the first time ever. 

From first-year teachers stocking an empty classroom to veteran educators who want to stop spending their own hard-earned money on school supplies, these are the teachers who need a champion like you.

Thank you all SO much, from the bottom of my heart, for helping me fully fund my very first project! I am so excited to tell the peanuts about it- I know they are going to love the new materials and their added impact to our classroom! Thank you for truly making an impact on the school days of some well-deserving, hard-working, and soon-to-be very grateful kiddos.” -Mrs. Hardy, A New Type of Classroom: A Home Away From Home

This grade level could use a boost

Let’s hear it for third grade! Teachers from this grade level have the most projects waiting to be funded right now on DonorsChoose.

Equity Focus Schools

For schools with a history of being underfunded, getting the right tools is an extra challenge. Your donation to an Equity Focus School helps level the playing field for students who deserve the same access and resources as their peers in other zip codes. (You can read more about Equity Focus Schools here.)

Says Mrs. Kurz in her project You Get Paper! and You Get Paper!

“I have the privilege of teaching three 7th-grade ELA classes in an urban setting school. If given the proper tools and guidance, my students are capable of amazing things. They are creative, intelligent problem solvers. There is no shortage when it comes to expressing themselves; they just need the tools to do that in a constructive way. My students are inquisitive risk-takers who, when given a challenge, will not back away. As a teacher, I want to give them that challenge and give them the world.”  

Or read more about our equity focus here.

Top 5 cities that could use a hand

We’ve crunched the 2023 donation numbers so far and mapped the places that could use an extra hand this month. Whether it’s your home community or a place 3,000 miles away, you can be a good neighbor to the awesome teachers and students in: Houston, Miami, Charlotte, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C.

Wherever you choose to give, your donation will make the final days of 2023 bright and merry for students and teachers.
Celebrate Lunar New Year with a Match Offer + Free Curriculum from Panda Express

Celebrate Lunar New Year and spark cultural curiosity in your classrooms with support from Panda Express!

Education Leaders

When classrooms celebrate world cultures as part of an affirming and expansive learning environment for students, young children are more able to develop a positive sense of identity and build self-esteem

Lunar New Year is one of the world's most vibrant holidays centered around good fortune, lucky foods, and togetherness. This year, Lunar New Year falls on February 10, 2024. Celebrated by more than 1.5 billion people worldwide, this colorful and rich holiday provides a great opportunity for teachers looking to bring other cultures into the classroom. For the second year in a row, we’re partnering with Panda Express, the largest family-owned and operated Asian dining concept in the U.S., for our Lunar New Year partnership, doubling donations to related projects and sharing a free Lunar New Year curriculum.

Starting today, November 20, Panda invites you to create a project to help students learn about and celebrate Lunar New Year for doubled donations.

Create a project

Panda Express’ Let’s Explore! Lunar New Year Program

In addition to doubling donations, Panda Express is sharing its “Let’s Explore!: Lunar New Year” program, a fun, free and educational resource for teachers who are looking for ideas to bring Lunar New Year to life in their classrooms.

The curriculum includes eight interactive activities that explore the rich traditions of Lunar New Year, like the meaning behind lucky foods eaten during the 15-day long celebration, the symbolism of lucky red envelopes, the importance of zodiac animals, and more. 

In addition to the digital curriculum, you’ll be sent a physical activity booklet that includes matching games, coloring templates, trivia, and step-by-step directions on how to make a Chinese Lantern and more, while supplies last. We encourage you to sign up for this limited-time interactive program! 

Learn more and sign up

Lunar New Year Project Inspiration

Looking for inspiration to take your classroom celebration to the next level? We want to share a few of our favorite Lunar New Year projects funded by Panda last year!

Ms. Huang requested calligraphy brushes, papers, inks, and more so that students could learn about Chinese culture during the Lunar New Year.

“Students will be practicing writing 8 basic strokes and Chinese characters with calligraphy brushes, ink, and rice paper. Students will learn patience and perseverance through Chinese calligraphy, which also help us to develop a broader vocabulary."

Mr. Andy requested Lunar New Year decorations and supplies to host a family engagement event in his classroom.

"Many of our families celebrate the Lunar New Year and our classroom should represent what our students' homes look like. Our classroom should become both a window to look into others' cultures, and also a mirror as a reflection of their own."

Ms. Stroy requested the art supplies her students needed to lead a Lunar New Year celebration in their school.

"Most of my students celebrate the Chinese New Year, and they would love to educate and involve the whole class in making festive lanterns, fireworks, and rabbit sculptures! My students eagerly provided me with a vision and a list of craft materials and colors to make their celebration a success."

Want a few more ideas? Check out all the Lunar New Year projects funded by Panda Express last year!

We hope you’ll join us in deepening cultural education for today’s youth and acknowledging the cultural significance of one of the world’s most celebrated holidays! Create your project.

Three Lesson Plans Using the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Free Digital Resources for Students

Explore best-in-class ideas from DonorsChoose teachers


When students get hands-on with history, wonder and excitement fills the classroom — but finding and incorporating high quality immersive resources isn’t always easy! Last spring, we featured new resources from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) to help teachers do just that.

The North Star, a digital learning product of NMAAHC, allows students to explore history through the African American lens. Using objects, documents, imagery, and videos, students can enhance their content knowledge, hone historical thinking skills, and begin to see themselves as agents of change.

In Spring 2023, DonorsChoose invited teachers to submit a lesson plan using NMAAHC’s  North Star learning modules.

Teachers blew us away with their creativity and thoughtfulness! Check out three lesson plans from our winning teachers below!

North Star Curricula

Becoming a Historian: Historical Context

Ms. Van Weelden | Grades 9–12 

Students will learn how historical context enhances their understanding of past events and individuals, and the methods they can use to uncover and interpret this context effectively.

Lesson Plan

Unit Essential Question: How can we leverage primary sources and texts to educate students
about Black history?
Specific Essential Question:
How does historical context enhance our understanding of past
events and individuals, and what methods can we use to uncover and interpret this context
Amount of Time Needed to Complete: 1-2 days
Level of Students:
9-12th grade
Class Subject:

Pre-Assessment to Understand “Context” | 10-15 minutes

  • Divide the class into small groups of 4-5 students.
  • Give each group a short paragraph or sentence open to interpretation without any context. For example: "He saw the bird flying and took aim."
  • Ask each group to come up with as many possible meanings for the sentence as they can. Encourage them to think creatively and outside the box.
  • After 5-10 minutes, bring the class back together and ask each group to share their
  • Discuss how the different meanings arose due to the lack of context and how context is
    important in understanding a sentence or paragraph's true meaning.
  • Next, give each group a different paragraph or sentence with additional context, and ask
    them to interpret it again. For example: "He saw the bird flying and took aim with his
    camera, capturing a beautiful photograph."
  • Once again, ask each group to share their interpretations and discuss how the added
    context changed their understanding of the sentence.

Direct Instruction | 15 minutes

Have students take notes on slides 4-6 of the Becoming a Historian slideshow. Explain
what context is and why it is important. Finish by describing the elements of historical

  • Definition: Historical context is the background information that informs a deeper
    understanding of a historical individual, group or event.
  • Why it is important? Historical context is important because it allows historians
    to better understand history in the ways a historical individual or group
    understood the world around them, which leads historians to analyze the past
    more accurately.
  • Elements of Historical Context: Politics - Government - Law; Economics; Socio-Cultural; Religion; Science and Technology; Community Histories; Health - Medicine - Diseases; Environmental; Military; Key Events in History

Formative Assessement | 20-30 minutes

  • Divide the class into the same groups of 4-5 students. Depending on how many students are in the class, you can assign multiple elements to one group.
  • Give each group one element of historical context to research. (Group 1: Politics - Government - Law; Group 2: Economics; and so on)
  • Display the picture of The Poor People's Campaign of 1968 and the Fight Against Poverty on slide 14.
  • Explain that each group needs to use Chromebooks (or their phones) to research their specific historical element in order to complete the picture. For example, the group with the “economic” aspect would research what was happening in the economy during the 1960s. They then would examine how these economic factors are depicted in the picture to gain a deeper understanding of the image's context.
  • At the end of the allotted time, each group will present their findings to the class

(Optional) Summative Assessment: 10-15 minutes

Have the students complete the 4 question quis on slide 15 to demonstrate their understanding of the lesson.

  • What is Historical Context?
  • Why is Historical Context important?
  • Identify Elements of Historical Context.
  • True or false: A historical research project is stronger when a student or historian does not research the historical context.

The format of this quiz can be given on paper, in Google Forms, or on the website itself.

Becoming a Historian: Cause and Effect

Mr. Bernstein | Grades 10–12 

Students will learn to use historical thinking skills and define cause and effect by comparing and contrasting history with the impacts of computing on society.

Lesson Plan

Subject: AP Computer Science Principles
Grade Level:
1 Class Period

Each student will be able to

  • Use historical thinking skills - allow historians to better practice and interpret history
  • Define cause and effect and practive employing strategies

Bell Ringer:
Historians ask how an individual, group, event or idea was caused or influenced by events that came before it, as well as what short-term and long-term effects that an individual, group, event, or idea had on what came after. How can we compare and contract history with Computer Sciences Intended Purpose, Functionality, Beneficial, and Harmful Effect?


Students visit Becoming a Historian: Cause and Effect.

Review Slides and answer questions with your group. Students will share a Google Docs to collaborate and answer the questions as they move throughout the course.

Key Definition:

  • Cause and Effect
  • Primary and Secondary Sources
  • Impact on Society?

Once Students have completed Becoming a Historian: Cause and Effect, students will use their new knowledge to connect these key concepts to Computer Science and Computational innovations focusing on Beneficial and Harmful Effects, Impact on Society, Culture, Economy, Data Privacy, and how computational innovations have a cause and effect within the innovation for society.

Extra ticket: Complete the 3,2,1

  • 3 things I learned
  • 2 things I found interesting
  • 1 question I still have

CTE Standards and Benchmarks

CSP Conceptual Framework

  • CRD-1 - Incorporating multiple perspectives through collaboration improves the computing innovations being developed.
  • IOC-1 - While computing innovations are typically designed to achieve a specific purpose, they may have unintended consequences.
  • IOC-2 - The use of computing innovations may involve risks to your personal safety and identity.

CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (2017)

  • IC - Impacts of Computing
  • 3A-IC-24 - Evaluate the ways computing impacts personal, ethical, social, economic, and cultural practices.
  • 3A-IC-27 - Use tools and methods for collaboration on a project to increase connectivity of people in different cultures and career fields.
  • 3B-IC-25 - Evaluate computational artifacts to maximize their beneficial effects and minimize harmful effects on society.

Grades: Use Canva to create an infographic based on what is Cause and Effect and compare and contract how it is in History and Computer Science.

Becoming a Historian: Comparison

Ms. Bavuso | Grade 6 

Students will develop their comparison skills by analyzing primary documents, comparing life today to other periods of history, and drawing conclusions about history through those comparisons.

Lesson Plan

Learning Target: I can develop my comparison skills to become a better historian.

Success Criteria

  • I can compare life during other periods of history to today.
  • I can analyze primary documents.
  • I can draw conclusions about hisrory based on my comparisons.


Historical thinking skills allow historians to better practice and interpret history.

This Learning Lab will guide us through the process of defining historical comparison and practicing employing strategies from an example dealing with four personalities living through Jim Crow in the late nineteenth century.

Comparison is when historians note the similarities and differences of individuals, events, and groups. They question how and why these similarities or differences impacted history or even the modern day.

Instructions: You will have 7 minutes to, with your group/partner, review the slides entitled “How to Find Comparison?” to develop your knowledge about finding comparisons.

Mid Lesson Assessment: Independently complete the “Test Your Knowledge” Quiz to ensure that you are ready to move on!

Research Project: Each group has been assigned a civil rights activist. Using your assigned activist and the resources provided, complete your chart about your activist.


  • Secondary source videos
  • Internet research

Group Presentations: Each group will present the information they found on their chosen activist. You must take notes on the activists you did NOT research in order to help you develop your comparison.

Independent Practice: Independently, complete the practicing comparison slides and develop your comparison statements based on research completed by you and your classmates. In short response form, independently respond to the following question: Who do you think had the most effective response to Jim Crow and securing civil rights?

Inspired to bring these lessons to your students? Create a project to request all the resources you need to bring them to life.

5 Heartfelt Teacher Notes That Remind Us Why Donations Really Matter

These five teachers described what your generosity means to them with such color and conviction that we just had to share.

Education Leaders

“It was a profound moment.” – Mr. Perez

“The day we unpacked the boxes of supplies, the room buzzed with excitement. Eyes lit up and smiles spread contagiously as each student received a personal set of materials. It was a profound moment, witnessing students who had previously known the anxiety of empty hands now holding the keys to unlock their learning potential. These supplies have not just removed a barrier; they have opened a door, behind which lies the boundless creativity and curiosity of eager young minds.

Your support has rippled beyond individual moments, becoming an integral part of our daily learning environment. Students from other classes often stop by, knowing that our room is a place where they can replenish what they lack to continue their studies without interruption. This constant use is a vivid illustration of the need that existed, and the incredible impact your generosity has had. You've given more than just school supplies; you've provided a daily reminder to my students that there are people who believe in their potential.”

“Your gift means more than just paper.” – Mr. Kiczek

“Thanks to your kindness, we now have lots of paper to use for fun and exciting activities. This paper is like a magical ticket to creativity and learning. It means we can draw, write, and do all sorts of cool projects. It's like having a treasure chest of ideas!

But your gift means more than just paper. It shows us that there are awesome people like you who care about kids and their education. You're our secret ingredient to success! It makes us feel really special and encourages us to work super hard and dream big dreams.

We promise to use the paper wisely and make the most amazing things with it. Your gift will stay in our hearts and make our classroom a better place for learning, growing and most importantly, MAKING ART!

“You hold a very special place in my heart.” – Ms. Douglas

Oh my goodness, I believe your kindness and generosity just set a new record! From the time our project went live to being fully funded, it was just 2 hours and 22 minutes!! Let's do this again, sometime! 😊

Seriously, though, your support of our classroom and our children...and children yet to enter our classroom...deeply touches me, and you hold a very special place in my heart.♥️ Because of you, our children will get to experience these award-winning stories and connect themes such as acceptance, kindness, friendship, and perseverance to their personal lives.

Thank you so very much for helping my students reach for the stars and develop their imaginations!🌟🌟🌟”

“Your contribution is like the plot twist that makes our narrative unforgettable.” – Ms. Richards

You're our literary hero without a cape! We can't thank you enough for making our creative writing dreams come true. Your support has been the ink in our pens, the spark in our stories, and the icing on our metaphorical cake (because, well, cake can be a great source of inspiration, right?).

You've turned our writing journey into a grand adventure. We're now crafting words that dance, sentences that sing, and stories that sizzle with creativity. You've given us the tools to turn our wildest ideas into words and worlds.

In the spirit of wit and wordplay, let us just say this: you're more awesome than a thesaurus in the hands of a poet on a sunny day!

From the bottom of our writerly hearts, thank you for believing in us, for nurturing our creativity, and for being a part of our story. Your contribution is like the plot twist that makes our narrative unforgettable.”

“There are people who believe in them and their potential.” – Mrs. Ibarra

“Your donation has not only enriched our classroom environment but has also instilled in my students a sense of appreciation for the power of education and the importance of community support. Your generosity has shown them that there are people who believe in them and their potential, and this has boosted their confidence and motivation.

Native American & Alaska Native Teachers Reflect on Their Unique Classroom Contributions

Words of warmth and wisdom from five standout Native American & Alaska Native teachers.


Students of all backgrounds benefit from diversity in the classroom. And classrooms thrive when teachers can show up as their whole, authentic selves. Read on to hear, in their voices, what these teachers want you to know about their experiences:

Meet Crystal Madril, elementary school teacher, California

On her unique perspective as a Native American teacher:

“I am a mixed Jicarilla Apache and Filipino teacher. I understand the challenges to find spaces that reflect who I am and spaces that allow me to be my authentic self. Narratives of people like me were not something I was exposed to in my own schooling experience. Today, I can include (and highlight) these perspectives when I teach. I now have the ability to make space and hold space for students with varied backgrounds and experiences. The Native American community, the community where I live (and where I grew up) gives me so much support allowing me to be my authentic self and share with those I work with and those I educate.”

On what students gain by honoring culture and heritage:

“My students gain a more inclusive perspective of the history of this country and the local area that we call home when we honor Native American Heritage. My students gain respect for different cultures, land, natural resources and diversity in general.  They are able to identify and bring attention to incidents of racism and cultural appropriation.”

On engaging students in learning about diverse cultures:

I know that representation matters. As we read books and content that resonates with students, I can see their eyes light up. They sit at the edge of their seats wanting to share. Students come in days later sharing that their relative is also Native American. I always encourage them to be curious and ask further questions and learn about their family heritage.

Meet an anonymous preK teacher, Arizona

On relating to students and families:

I am a kindergarten teacher on a Native American Reservation located in Arizona. [My school] is predominantly a Native American school, which is what makes it unique. I love that I am able to teach in the place I grew up and that I can relate to my students and families. I feel the ability to relate to our students and families, both academically and socially, is a key ingredient to their success.

Meet Jennifer Gant, middle school teacher, Indiana

On her unique perspective as a Native American teacher:

“I always try to have my students look at multiple points of view for every story. This way, they can develop empathy and see that history isn't always so black and white but full of gray!”

On how her experiences as an educator have changed over the years: 

“I changed from teaching English Language Arts to Science. The narrative writing required has lessened, but it has allowed me to help my students find scientists of all nationalities!”

On incorporating diversity (of all kinds!) in the classroom:

“My newcomers loved Hispanic Heritage month. They were the experts and it really empowered them!”

Meet an anonymous high school teacher, Arizona

On facing challenges with their students:

I teach in a high school that is primarily Native American. The school is located on the Navajo Reservation. I have worked in many other places, but, this place is special to me. My students are the reason why I love teaching math. I would love for my students to have the all the tools necessary for them to succeed. However, my students are faced with many challenges; Most students here ride the bus to school and some students may spend 30 minutes to 2 hours on the bus one way.

These challenges may prevent them from getting ahead in life. Many of my students struggle with math, so I provide them time after school where they can stay in my classroom to get help from me.

Meet Tawnya Jacocks, middle school teacher, Connecticut

On her unique perspective as a Native American teacher:

“My [multiracial African-American, Native-American, and Caucasian] heritage allows me to truly celebrate the beauty and meaning that can be found in the cultural diversity of our school and our world. I am very inspired by teaching multicultural art lessons that help students become more open-minded and able to value cultural differences and connect through similarities. My heritage also has taught me to value nature, patience, perseverance and compassion all of which are reflected as values in my classroom.”

Meet an anonymous elementary teacher, Arizona

On helping their students:

I am an Indigenous teacher working at a K-8 elementary school on my reservation. The majority of my students do not see a future for themselves outside of our reservation. I have been trying to show them options by talking about my own travels, bringing other cultural items in and having them think about their future(s). I am hoping that by honing skills they wouldn't normally be exposed to, it will spark their desire to learn more about the outside world.

Resources to Guide Native American Heritage Month Lessons in Your Classroom

These resources below can help you create an authentic and inclusive Native American Heritage Month lesson plan.

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As you spend November encouraging thankfulness and gratitude in your classroom, consider dedicating time to celebrating our nation’s Native American communities and acknowledging the treatment of Indigenous peoples in the Americas.

National Native American Heritage Month gives teachers of all backgrounds a unique opportunity to elevate Indigenous voices and teach students about their culture and contributions. The resources below can help you create an authentic and inclusive Native American Heritage Month lesson plan:

Native Knowledge 360° 

Created by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, this guide has educational materials, virtual student programs, and teacher training programs that challenge common misconceptions and highlight historical and contemporary Native American narratives.

Living with the Land Lesson Plan

In honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Illuminative partnered with Amplifier and Nia Tero to create a project-based lesson plan asking students: How does honoring and restoring land stewardship to Native Americans impact human lives and property, biodiversity, and air and water quality?

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Resources

This selection of lessons, books, and films by the Zinn Education Project helps students critically analyze the history of Columbus, the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change, the historic struggle surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Trail of Tears.

Whose Land Are We On?

Dr. Emma Humphries recommends starting close to home when learning about Native American history. This website maps Indigenous territories all around the world and is searchable by address.

Wisconsin First Nations Education

This collection was created to give educators and pre-service teachers an accurate and authentic way to start teaching about the American Indian Nations of Wisconsin. The collection includes educational videos, teacher professional development resources, and lesson plans for all grades. Especially helpful: their three starter questions for kicking off an engaging conversation about American Indian Studies:

  • How long have humans lived here?
  • In 1800, which American Indian nations called the lands you are on today home?
  • Who are my tribal neighbors today?

Additional National Museum of the American Indian Resources

The Museum’s educational collection includes a chapter on cultural repression, specifically histories from the federal Indian boarding school system (recommended for middle- and high-school students). The Museum has also developed a unit on Celebrating Native Cultures Through Words: Storytelling and Oral Traditions, with classroom activities and resources appropriate for all grade levels.

Teachers, create a project today to help bring Native American history into your classroom. (Need some inspiration? See what your fellow teachers are doing.)

Native American Heritage Month In the Classroom

These projects from teachers across the country celebrate Native American Heritage Month through games, music, art, books, technology, film, and more!


As you spend November encouraging thankfulness and gratitude in your classroom, consider dedicating time to celebrating our nation’s Native American communities and acknowledging the treatment of Indigenous peoples in the Americas.

These projects from teachers across the country celebrate Native American Heritage Month through games, music, art, books, technology, film, and more:

Telling the Story

Mrs. Amber’s classroom serves Native American preschoolers from across her district. Her goal is to connect students with their Native history, cultures and traditions, instilling pride and confidence to achieve challenging academic standards. Through her project, Pre-K Indigenous Theater, she gave her students the opportunity to immerse themselves in imagination, creativity, cooperative learning and self-expression.

We are most often inspired by picture books written by Indigenous storytellers and authors. We integrate our learning through hands-on experiences that I create in and outside of the classroom. Many of the stories we hear have animal characters that interact with the world around them and teach us valuable lessons about traditional ecological knowledge, culture and history. The students engage deeply in identifying and exploring ideas with the use of puppets. Over time, we have acquired bear, beaver, turtle, frog, otter, hare, and bee puppets, and we are still working to add others to our collection.”

By choosing a puppet theater with enough puppets for multiple students, she also gave her class opportunities to participate collaboratively on a story.

Sharing Students’ Traditions

As part of her project, Indigenous Heritage Month Materials, Ms. Slatoff let one of her students pick the materials for her DonorsChoose request:

One of our students wanted to teach the class some Navajo String Games her shimásání (grandmother) taught her, so she picked out two different kinds of string to peer-teach this lesson to her classmates and share a piece of her history with us.”

Include the Indigenous students in your classroom in your lesson planning by inviting them to share their family histories and traditions as Native American Heritage Month activities!

Documenting Home 

In his project, Reservation Filmmakers Shoot Breathtaking Aerial Shots with a Drone, Mr. Snethen combined technology with the most abundant resource available: the Earth.

“My indigenous Lakta students are gifted and natural performing artists. They want to make movies here on the Pine Ridge. They want to showcase their homeland, their communities and their people.

One drone (or for your classroom, a no-special-license-required camera!) will enable students to capture the true beauty of the land they live on, their neighborhood, or their school community.

Lifting Our Voices

Dr. Gardner loves her students’ stories. Her project, We Got to Tell it or Yell it!,  to help emergent bilingual students gain confidence by recording oral histories to share with family and friends.

We want to record and tell motivational stories of their struggle and overcoming to inspire others. Those who have a story are often shy or fear public speaking. Yet, we want to hear what they have to say. These gifts would help build up their confidence.”

Finding Yourself on the Page

Through her project, Culturally Responsive Whole-Class Novel for Honors 9th Grade English!, Ms. Cunningham requested a class set of “The Marrow Thieves” by Cherie Dimaline, an Indigenous Métis author.

“Our school, located in Southwest Phoenix, serves students from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds including a number of local Indigenous tribes and communities. These students, however, rarely get to see themselves and their culture reflected in the classroom, on the syllabus, and in the texts they read.

By selecting a text that highlights the struggles and joys of Indigenous people, Ms. Cunningham aimed to give her students a book that’s “fun to read but still captures important messages about human nature, the historic mistreatment of Indigenous Americans, identity, the power of knowing who you are and where you're from, and hope”.

Turning up the Volume

Mr. Meyers wants to teach his students about the expansive world of percussion and introduce new instruments to his classroom. His project, Needs More Cowbell, provided them with instruments of many cultures and traditions, including Indigenous, Latin, and African peoples.

“Music is an important facet of education that students need. Because of your generous donation, my students have an opportunity to practice music that is culturally relevant. I am so excited to start this school year with even more instruments at our disposal.”

Use instruments (or a bluetooth speaker!) to introduce your students to worldwide music as a full lesson or as a three-minute transition from one activity to the next.

Reading, then Writing

Honor Native American Heritage Month all year long like Ms. Jody did with her project, Taking a Deep Dive into Indigenous History. Her high-schoolers got college-ready by developing their writing skills throughout the semester by studying Indigenous People’s history and writing a research paper on a topic of their own choosing.

“The classroom library that I will build with your help will allow students to conduct research by having access to the works of important Indigenous writers of our time.”

Check out these titles from Ms. Jody’s newly-stocked library:

  • Project 562: Changing the Way We See Native America
  • The Red Deal: Indigenous Action to Save Our Earth
  • Standing with Standing Rock: Voices from the #NoDAPL Movement
  • Flight: A Novel
  • The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present
  • Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
  • Red Nation Rising: From Bordertown Violence to Native Liberation
  • Apple: (Skin to the Core)
  • Love Medicine: Newly Revised Edition
  • The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West
  • An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (ReVisioning History)

Check out this blog post for resources to guide Native American Heritage Month lessons in your classroom, including the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s lesson plan: Celebrating Native Cultures Through Words: Storytelling and Oral Traditions.

Native American Heritage Books for Your Library

Every kid deserves to see their traditions and culture reflected in the books they read. And every kid should have access to books about cultures beyond their own. Check out these must-read titles from Native American authors.


"We want to continue building culturally relevant curriculum in our schools by being intentional about what we teach with. We can go beyond land acknowledgments as a community and create a different narrative by centering Indigenous stories missing from our classrooms." —Mr. Yu, Elementary School teacher, OR

Every child deserves to see themselves reflected in the books they read. And every child should have access to books about cultures beyond their own. That's why we've compiled a list of must-read books that center Native American voices and highlight the heritage of Native peoples.

Elementary Books

The Water Protectors, by Carole Lindstrom

How do you protect the water that your community and sacred land relies on? This is what a young girl named Winona aims to discover as she learns of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the harm it may cause on the environment and her people. That’s also when she meets The Water Protectors.

This engaging tale shows the reader the power behind people coming together, and is a page-turner for any young learner.

Key themes: Community, environmentalism, resilience

Berry Song, by Michaela Goade

Tag along with a young Tlingit girl and her grandmother on a berry picking adventure in this story that is filled to the brim with lush illustrations of the Alaskan landscape. 

Berry Song is a rich celebration of intergenerational relationships, cultural heritage – and our connection to the natural world and one another. You won’t want to put it down!

Key themes: Grandparent-grandchild relationships, nature, cultural preservation, family

We are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, by Traci Sorell

The book cover has the title "We are Grateful Otsaliheliga" and illustraions of seven people in colorful attire

This nonfiction picture book is filled with vivid depictions of how the Cherokee people celebrate every aspect of life  — from food to family to festivals.  

Filled with Cherokee words and pronunciations, this book can teach you more about the Cherokee culture.

Key themes: The connecting power of music, family, migration, biography

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, by Kevin Noble Maillard

Book cover shows a family member carrrying a child and a basket or fry bread

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story is a children's picture book about family heritage and traditions. In Kevin Noble Maillard’s debut publication, he tells this story about a Native American family cooking fry bread using lively and powerful verse. 

The book also features a recipe to make your own fry bread.

Key themes: Identity, community, culture, traditions

Middle School Books

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids, by Cynthia Leitich Smith 

Set at a powwow, this award-winning collection of intersecting stories all written by different Native writers immediately weaves you into the worlds of the diverse characters and lives unfolding on the pages.

Edited by bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith, Ancestor Approved shines with hope and resilience through and through.

Key Themes: Intertribal experiences, Native culture, multiple perspectives, short stories

Rez Ball, by Byron Graves

Tre Brun knows what brings him joy. Happiness to him is a basketball in his hands as he plays on the Red Lake Reservation high school team. The same team his late brother once played on. But will he get his chance to represent his Ojibwe rez all the way to their first state championship? 

Rez Ball is an intensely compelling coming of age story, worth picking up whether you are a sports fan or not. 

Key Themes: Family, grief, coming of age, reservation life

Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina by Maria Tallchief

The bookcover has the titles and an illustration of a ballerina bending over to fix their ballet shoes

Based on true events, this historical fiction novel tells the story of Maria Tallchief, America’s first Native American prima ballerina. According to Osage tradition, women are not allowed to dance. Fortunately, Maria’s parents believed in her talent and led her to make history.

Today, Maria Tallchief is admired for her courage, talent, and strength. This fascinating story will captivate and inspire all readers. 

Key themes: Family relationships, finding your talent, overcoming obstacles

Two Roads, by Joseph Bruchac

The "Two Roads" book cover has a large bird in the background and sillouetes of people around a fire

In this Great Depression-era tale, a young Cal leaves life with his father, a WWI veteran, to join the unknown world of the Challagi Indian Boarding School. 

Along with other Creek boys in the boarding schools, Cal discovers more of his Creek heritage after an unexpected turn of events. 

Key themes: Family, culture preservation, coming of age

High School Books

The FireKeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Daunis Fontaine feels like an outsider in both her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. She has already put her dreams on hold to care for her mother in the wake of a family tragedy — and now Daunis has just witnessed a shocking murder. One that she will soon be made to go undercover to investigate. 

This vivid story is a complex, but beautiful tale of tribal life, finding identity, and the lengths one can go to protect your community. 

Key themes: Family history, complexities of identity, community, magical realism

There There, by Tommy Orange

The "There There" book cover is on an orange backgound and there are feathers after each "there"

Journey to the Big Oakland Powwow of California in this a multigenerational tale of Native American heritage told through the eyes of diverse characters. With each chapter, the reader gets to know a new person and the unique relationship they hold with their Native American heritage and community.

Each character will capture the hearts of the reader and demonstrate just how much of a person’s journey lies below what we see on the surface.

Key themes: Storytelling, family history, complexities of identity, resilience

Where the Dead Sit Talking, by Brandon Hobson

The book cover for "Where the Dead Sit Talking" is on a orange background and has a illustration of a bird above the title.

This 2018 National Book Award Finalist follows a teenage Cherokee boy through his journey in the foster care system. Sequoyah must define and redefine home as he bounces from house to house in rural Oklahoma. 

Key themes: Home, identity, displacement

DonorsChoose Partnership with Panda Express Wins Ragan CSR & Diversity Awards, Corporate-Community or Nonprofit Partnership

Achieving robust stakeholder engagement through local teacher support and celebrating cultural awareness

Education Leaders

“In a powerful collaboration, Panda Cares [the philanthropic arm of Panda Express] teamed up with DonorsChoose with the goal to make a significant difference in the world of education and communities. Through its campaign, the partnership has managed to fund numerous teacher projects, deliver meals to classrooms and engage associates, fostering a sense of pride and community connection….

The campaign’s success is a testament to the collective efforts of 44,961 donors who contributed to the cause. The PandaCares and DonorsChoose partnership continues to shape a brighter future for education and communities across the nation.”

Read the full write up.

DonorsChoose Partnership with Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Wins PR Daily’s Nonprofit Communications Award, Corporate-Nonprofit Partnership

Strategic cross-channel communications drove teacher engagement and tangible classroom impact


Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow (SFT) program is a national competition challenging public school students in grades 6-12 to explore the role of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in solving significant issues in their local communities, with the opportunity to win a share of $2 million in Samsung technology and classroom supplies. Samsung partners with crowdfunding nonprofit DonorsChoose to ensure that diverse students across the U.S. have the tools and experiences they need to power their STEM education.

Beyond the competition, SFT sheds light on local issues and possible solutions, which creates a positive ripple effect for communities. The visibility created by Samsung and DonorsChoose for teachers, students, and schools not only leads to community and government recognition but also initiates increased funding for more comprehensive STEM curricula. What’s more, SFT students have gone on to study STEM in college, pursue STEM careers, and take active civic leadership roles in their communities.

Read the full awards write up.

Congratulations to our friends at SamsungSolve for Tomorrow, who also received the Ragan CSR & Diversity Award, Education or Scholarship program!

Schools (and You!) Brought Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month to Life

This Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month, DonorsChoose is celebrated all the Latino/a teachers and students who make a difference year-round.


This Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month at DonorsChoose, our community went all-out in celebrating AND supporting the amazing Latino/a teachers who make a difference in their classrooms year-round.

In fact, our donors and partners helped fund a total of $10.1 million in support of Latino/a teachers — or schools where the majority of students are Latino/a. And those numbers are only half of the story. For the rest? We compiled a recap of just some of the highlights from this month’s celebrations.

What Our Teachers Say

Ms. Ocampo knows the unique connections she gets to make with her students being a teacher who is part of the Latina community and the LGBTQ community, both big and small.  

Ms. Banda understands just how critical representation can be when helping her kids learn, and her story about a student learning to feel proud of their skin tone in her classroom certainly shows the impact.

What the Stats Show

We know we said the numbers only tell half the story, but we also couldn’t help sharing with you the overall impact that we were able to achieve together for classroom projects during this month:

$10,145,265 funds for classrooms with Latino/a teachers and students

$914,169: Daily average of project donations during Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month 

92,503: Number of donors who gave

What’s Happening in Classrooms

Speaking of fully funded projects, we couldn’t help showcasing just a few of the many classroom projects that will now become reality thanks to our teachers and supporters efforts during Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month:

“Thank you so much for supporting my classroom! It will make the learning environment amazing. They will walk in and feel like they have left the US and entered any of the other Spanish speaking countries!” —Ms. Dubose, whose “Spanish Welcoming“ project will give her students a warm and open learning environment as they dive into their Spanish studies.

“My students are bilingual students trying to not only learn the English language, but they are learning to be successful in their first language. These engaging games and activities will not only help encourage my students to learn, but they will enjoy the learning process.“ —Ms. Dominguez, whose Reading Growth Must-Haves project will be providing her young readers with the language-learning resources they need.

“Your support will provide the means for these extraordinary young musicians to unleash their artistic potential and shape a harmonious future through the power of music.” —Mr. Lacari, whose Empowering Students Through Turntablism! project is giving his creative class the gift of music, mixing, and motivation to learn big.

Even Our Staff Got in on the Action

Hear directly from the DonorsChoose staff on Instagram!

Ruby Broobs & the Teachers That Inspired Them

We partnered with Ruby Broobs to celebrate Latino/a educators. Hear directly from Ruby about the teachers that inspired them to become the person they are today.


For Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month celebrations this year, Ruby Broobs, a Chicanx artist based in San Francisco, helped us surprise some of our Latino/a educators with beautiful portraits that they can cherish forever. To see the portraits and the teachers we featured, head to Instagram!

Ruby also shared a little about the teachers who supported and inspired them.

Read more about the DonorsChoose Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month celebrations here.

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