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DonorsChoose Returns to the Classroom: Lessons From Our School Visits

Discover why DonorsChoose staff visited schools in NYC! Witness the dedication of teachers, the tools provided to students, and the real-time impact of donations. Learn how our team connects, learns, and continues to improve the teacher experience.

Education Leaders

Written by Marlene Barrios, Kevin Song, Maira Vargas, and Rose Wirekoh 

Every year, DonorsChoose welcomes a group of fellows: recent first-generation, underrepresented college graduates who spend a year working across the organization to support our mission for education equity and national community of donors and teachers

One of the many ways DonorsChoose employees stay connected to our mission is to visit classrooms and talk with teachers and students. This February, for the first time since the pandemic, DonorsChoose teachers in NYC showed our staff the impact of our work in person, and how the generosity of our donors puts smiles on their students’ faces. As teachers graciously welcomed us into their classroom, 120 staff members got to visit 23 PreK–12 schools to see learning in action!

Returning to The Classroom

As recent college graduates, we have fresh classroom memories of caring teachers, classmates from different backgrounds, and deadlines for projects, tests, and assignments. We never lacked support from our teachers that went above and beyond for their classroom. We used to wonder how our teachers could get us extra donuts for a celebration or spend their afterschool time supporting students. It never occurred to us that teachers were reaching into their own pockets, spending on average $687 every year for their classrooms, and even devoting their personal time to make sure we were getting what we needed. 

Growing from students into advocates, storytellers, and teacher champions, we now see the hard work and care that teachers put into their classrooms. To see classrooms filled with supplies, emotional support plushies, and snacks touched our hearts. A few fellows fondly recall the transformative impact of classroom projects funded by DonorsChoose. By having the necessary supplies for our classrooms, it made it easier to dedicate ourselves to learning, free from one more distraction that could interrupt our educational journey.

Understanding Teachers’ and Students’ Needs

From organization bins, paper shredders, magazines, and carpets, students were using supplies that teachers received through DonorsChoose to learn, explore, and grow. Witnessing this served as a great reminder for staff why many of us decided to work for DonorsChoose, and why we’re passionate about funding public schools equitably. 

When reflecting on school visits, one staff member shared, “getting to directly interact with teachers and students in their own environment is … so important.” Another shared that they were “fortunate enough to spend time with a teacher who was extremely open to answering any and all questions from [themselves] and other folks at DC [during their] school visit.” 

Photo of young students with arms wrapped around each other

In addition to seeing the direct impact of our work, we also had the opportunity to learn from the community we directly serve, and bring the feedback necessary to continue improving their teacher experience. 

Fueling our Future Work

Immersing ourselves in classrooms opened our eyes to the heroic teachers who work tirelessly to create a great learning experience for each and every student. In our conversations with teachers, they continue to express their gratitude for all the support — from a $5 donation to million dollar match offers — that helps their students have the tools and experiences they need for a great education!

Now Open! ColorPop Books by DonorsChoose: Identity-Affirming Books for Every Kid

Kids are growing up in a colorful, complex world. ColorPop Books is our newest initiative from DonorsChoose to help them navigate it.

“When [kids] can see themselves in books it is an amazing thing. It helps to give them a voice. It is empowering. When [kids] see others represented in books it helps them to learn acceptance, empathy, and equity.” — a DonorsChoose K-5 teacher in Arizona

We live in a world that is bursting with colors, complexities, and nuances. So why would we limit our kids’ books to just one shade of it? That is why we’re so excited to introduce a brand-new initiative from DonorsChoose — ColorPop Books

ColorPop Books is an online bookstore featuring vibrant, representative book bundles — each packed with stories and characters that reflect the identities and experiences that are all too rare in children’s books. 

Every purchase at ColorPop Books also helps fund books for historically underfunded public schools through DonorsChoose. For over 20 years, teachers have used DonorsChoose to bring vital stories to their students — and we’re striving to make ColorPop Books as much of an investment in our teacher communities as it is in parents and kids. 

This initiative is a labor of love from the DonorsChoose team and we’re so excited to finally get to share it with you. You can start browsing ColorPop Books today!

And dive into the who, what, when, and why’s of ColorPop Books below.

Who is ColorPop for?

ColorPop Books is for anyone with a child in their life who needs more affirming, inclusive, and/or diverse books — whether you are a parent, caregiver, family member, or loved one. 

Each book bundle in the ColorPop library comes from the recommendations of thousands of parents, including our own dedicated team of parent advisors, and are specifically curated for the child who doesn’t often get to see their identities and experiences reflected in books. These kid-friendly bundles include:

  • A bundle that shows kids loving their natural hair
  • A bundle to let kids know they’re the boss of their own bodies
  • A bundle to guide a child through grief
  • A bundle that emphasizes girls in STEM
  • And many, many more.

Whether you are looking for books that are a mirror for kids to see their own identities, or books that are a window into unexplored worlds, ColorPop Books has you covered. 

How did ColorPop get started

At DonorsChoose, we’ve worked with public teachers now for over two decades to help connect their students with the resources they need. The DonorsChoose community of classroom supporters has funded nearly 3 million projects and delivered over 10 million books to classrooms in that time. One of the things our teacher requests have illustrated over the years is a clear need for more representative and diverse books that allow students to feel seen — and to help them learn from the experiences of others, too. 

It’s one of the most frequent things that we’ve heard from our teachers directly:

“As an African American teacher who teaches children of many different races and ethnicities it is extremely important to me that my students read stories with characters who look like them. How can I tell my students that they can be and do anything they put their mind to if they don’t see that reflected in the stories I read to them?” - a DonorsChoose Kindergarten teacher in Florida

“When students can see themselves in books it is an amazing thing. It helps to give them a voice. It is empowering. When students see others represented in books it helps them to learn acceptance, empathy, and equity.” - a DonorsChoose K-5 teacher in Arizona

“Especially as an ESL teacher, it is important that each student feels seen and heard in my classroom, and it shows them that they MATTER. This not only builds community, but a beautiful perspective on the people and culture we are surrounded by.”  - a DonorsChoose 2nd and 4th grade teacher in Tennessee

And it’s not just teachers, but families, too. We’ve heard these sentiments echoed just as clearly from parents and guardians:

“Books are the way I teach my daughter everything. I buy books depending on the season she’s going through or what I need to teach her.” - Myrna, mom of a 5 yr old and 1 yr old

“I am Muslim and I do want my kids' friends to know what they're all about … My kids have a hard time embracing who they are because they are different. It’s important to me that other people have a general understanding that families come in different shapes and sizes.” - SK, mom of 3

“We’re dealing with a loss of a family member. Our daughter is taking it hard and we have her in therapy. As we’re navigating that with her, I’m wishing there were more books that describe the situation that don't have to do with violence or old age.” - Amatise, mom of a 4 yr old

Affirming books help build both a child's self-confidence and empathy for others. Through ColorPop’s book bundles, DonorsChoose makes it easy to give these books to the children in your life. 

We hope more than anything this new resource can help you through those tough conversations and everyday affirmations. Kids are navigating our big colorful, complex world, and they deserve books and stories that let them know we all belong in it.

*Please note by visiting the links above, you will be directed to a third party site, colorpopbooks.com

The Importance of Juneteenth in the Classroom

Here’s how DonorsChoose teachers are using Juneteenth to help their students learn about themselves and a fuller history of America.


June 19, 1865: Word of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation finally reaches a group of the last enslaved people in the U.S., located in the heart of the Confederacy at Galveston, Texas. 

June 12, 2021: Nearly 160 years later, President Biden commemorates the moment by declaring Juneteenth — also called “Freedom Day” or “Black Independence Day” — as an official federal holiday.

The history of Juneteenth is a deep and complicated experience for Black people in the United States. And while it has only been an official federal holiday for a couple of years now, our country’s Black communities have been celebrating and building traditions around the day for over a century. By discussing and celebrating Juneteenth in the classroom, educators offer an affirming experience for Black students — and a learning experience for all students, promoting understanding and empathy​ (EdWeek)

Says DonorsChoose CEO (and former teacher) Alix Guerrier, “One way to deliver on the promise of Juneteenth is to ensure that our students learn that Black history is American history … we celebrate the teachers who bring these stories and more to their classrooms, teaching all of their students a complete history of our nation’s defining victories and darkest hours.”

As students learn about Juneteenth and reflect on its significance, we’re spotlighting classroom projects that showcase how DonorsChoose teachers bring these lessons to life for their students.

What Does Teaching Juneteenth Look Like? 

Over the last 5 years, our team has seen a 117% increase in classroom projects requesting resources for students to "see themselves" — and that very much includes Juneteenth-focused projects.  Here are just a handful of classroom projects from our teacher community — each using Juneteenth-focused education in different ways to help their students learn:

Getting Juneteenth On the Shelves

“As the librarian I am hoping to expand our Juneteenth Celebration this year to make it school wide. Over half of our students identify as black so this is particularly important.” — Ms. Walkama

Students who experience culturally responsive teaching practices develop a deeper sense of racial identity — and a trove of studies favorably link racial and ethnic pride and belonging to school engagement, interest in learning, and even better grades. With over half of students at her school identifying as black,  Ms. Walkama‘s Juneteenth Books a Celebration of Our Students Personal History project aims to give her students this feeling of belonging and pride by updating the school’s library shelves with history books that reflect their identities, histories, and experiences. 

Food For Thought (And For Learning)

“We want to expose the children to these traditional foods so they can truly get an authentic Juneteenth celebration.” —Ms. Rudzinski

Ms. Rudzinski knows Juneteenth’s history isn’t only found in textbooks. Her Juneteenth Celebration project also brings her students lessons through traditional foods that are all rooted in the historic holiday — including strawberry soda, red velvet cake, and gumbo.

Wearing History On Your Sleeves

“Many of my students need to be made aware of, and learn, the history behind Juneteenth. They know of the over-commercialization of this ‘Freedom Day’ but not the historical legacy highlighting education and the many achievements of African Americans.” — Ms. Thomas

Juneteenth falls during summer break for many schools, including for Ms. Thomas and the High Schoolers she teaches. Her Celebrating Juneteenth project aims to leave a lasting educational impression (with bonus t-shirts included) to help young people carry the history and culture of Juneteenth home with them even after the school year ends. 

Lessons With Story Quilts and More

“My 5th grade students will be reading ‘The Story of Juneteenth: An Interactive History Adventure’ for their TPSP project on story quilts … helping my students develop the essential skills of logical thinking, creative problem solving, intellectual risk taking, and communicating.” — Ms. Crossland

In An Interactive History Adventure! Story Quilts! Novel Study! Fabric Markers!, Ms. Crossland’s learners are gaining a unique, interactive approach to learning history, quilting, and storytelling all woven within the history of Juneteenth itself.

Getting The Full Picture for June 19 and Beyond

“Our photography program is a way to help students and our photographers explore the art through a lens which can zoom, provide enhancements, and tell a story. As we come to a close of the year, these lenses will play many roles in how we uplift students' creativity, and celebrate Juneteenth.” — Ms. Logan

The history of Juneteenth is also the history of Black culture and life in America across nearly 160 years and beyond. That’s while Ms. Logan’s  See the Future Through Lens art photography project isn’t only for Juneteenth, her students are nonetheless encouraged to bring their full selves and utilize their unique skills — in this case, photography — to build community and honor and celebrate the occasion with their own creative expressions.

Juneteenth In Action 

“Giving these students the resources they need and deserve sends a message: We value you and we value your education. My students work hard and want to be here.” — Ms. Chapman

Research on culturally responsive teachers reveals that, beyond foregrounding students’ culture in the classroom, these teachers build students’ awareness of social justice issues encountered in their daily lives and communities through rigorous, project-based activities. For Ms. Chapman’s Activism! Activism! Read All About It project not only brings students a comprehensive view of Black history and social reform movements but allows them to bring those lessons to life by participating in a student-led activist project for Juneteenth.


Want to support a teacher’s classroom project for Juneteenth this year — or get inspiration as you create your own? You can explore our full list of Juneteenth-focused projects here and learn more about DonorsChoose Equity Focus Schools here.  

1Does Culturally Relevant Teaching Work? An Examination From Student Perspectives: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2158244016660744

What People Say About Teachers

We recently surveyed our donors for the top words they’d use to describe teachers. Would you add any words to this list?


Over the past two decades, the DonorsChoose community has helped nearly 800,000 teachers get the classroom materials their students need most. Each of those teachers is one-of-a-kind, with classroom needs, teaching styles, and stories all their own.

Teachers from every corner of the country post requests for classroom supplies on DonorsChoose. Because of teachers’ ingenuity and dedication, generous folks step up to help provide the funding, donating in every amount from $1 to 10,000 at a time to help teachers get what they need.  

We recently surveyed these donors for the top words they’d use to describe teachers. Here are the results (and spoiler: they universally love and respect our nation’s educators). 


Teachers are fully committed to their profession and do their utmost to ensure the success and well-being of their students. They consistently put in extra time and effort to prepare lessons, provide individualized support, and continuously improve their teaching skills.


Teachers genuinely empathize with their students and prioritize their emotional and social well-being. They create a nurturing and supportive environment where students feel safe to express themselves, seek guidance, and grow both academically and personally. Many teachers even go above and beyond to ensure students’ basic needs of warmth, care, & hunger are met so that they can come to school their happiest and healthiest selves.


Teachers think outside the box and find innovative ways to engage students in learning. They bring imagination and fresh ideas to their lessons, incorporating hands-on activities, technology, and various teaching methods to make the learning experience exciting and memorable. Adding hip hop beats to learn science vocabulary, upcycling paper and fabric scraps for a fashion show, or turning a classroom into a safari, teachers’ imaginations are endless.


Teachers show deep concern and empathy for their students' struggles, challenges, and successes. They offer support, encouragement, and understanding, recognizing that each student is unique and may require individualized attention to thrive academically and emotionally.


Teachers maintain high standards of ethics and expertise in their craft. They continuously seek professional development opportunities, stay updated with current research and best practices, and adhere to professional codes of conduct to ensure the highest quality of education for their students.


Teachers have the ability to ignite a love for learning in their students. Through their passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm, they motivate and inspire young minds, helping them realize their full potential and pursue their dreams with confidence.


Despite the tremendous impact they have on shaping young minds and preparing young people for adulthood, teachers’ contributions often go unrecognized. Many teachers persevere because of their passion for education. However, our community of donors agrees: Much more needs to be done to support these amazing people.


Teachers are willing to go the extra mile to ensure their students' success and well-being, often putting in long hours and dedicating themselves (and their own resources) to the betterment of their students. In fact, teachers spent an average of $687 of their own money in the 2022-23 school year to stock their classrooms.


Teachers face challenges with determination and bounce back from setbacks. They adapt to changing circumstances, remain positive, and persevere in the face of obstacles. From remote learning during a pandemic to dealing with lack of funding, every school year gives teachers a new challenge to face.


Teachers are exceptionally skilled at finding creative solutions to challenges and adapting to various situations. They make the most of the resources available to them, whether it be their own expertise, their colleagues and teammates, materials, technology, or support from the DonorsChoose community!

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!

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