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Our Favorite Moments from the 2019 DonorsChoose Partner Summit

Here are some of the highlights from our 2019 Partner Summit gathering.


Every spring, our most generous corporate and foundation partners join us for two days of inspiration and education, helping them connect deeper to the DonorsChoose mission and to the teachers who use our platform. These partners have contributed over $60 million to classrooms this school year and love learning more about how their support helps public school teachers and students across the country.

We welcomed partners to our hometown — New York City — this year. Here are some of the highlights:

Being inspired by NYC Public Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza

We kicked off our Partner Summit speaking with Chancellor Carranza, on the very day he celebrated his one-year anniversary as head of New York City’s public schools! Chancellor Carranza, who previously served as the Houston Independent School District Superintendent, shared how he worked to rebuild Houston schools and communities following Hurricane Harvey with help from DonorsChoose. He also described his vision for New York schools, his hectic schedule overseeing 1,700 public schools, and why he loves the entrepreneurial spirit of his teachers who use our site.

Hearing from an incredible panel of teachers

We began our second day of Partner Summit by talking with the heroes of the day: three teachers from New York and Connecticut. Kara Breen, Sheena Graham, and Andy Yung — all DonorsChoose veterans with over 200 projects funded between them — had a conversation about diversity in the classroom and how important it is for their students to see themselves in their learning. We laughed, we cried, but most importantly, we were inspired by these teachers, who proudly represented the more than 100,000 educators that our partners have supported this year.

Laughing and learning with Stephen Colbert, W. Kamau Bell, Nancy Lublin, and Shankar Vedantam

Where does Stephen Colbert get his monologue topics for each show? What sticky situations has W. Kamau Bell found himself in for his show United Shades of America? How did the Domino’s Pizza Tracker inspire Nancy Lublin as she built Crisis Text Line? What parts of our subconscious brain does Shankar Vedantam think will impact our decisions to give to charity? We learned all this and more from our conversations with four luminaries and friends of DonorsChoose. Many more laughs, many more tears… next year, we’re going to bring more tissues.

Connecting our partners

Our partners love to learn from each other about their philanthropic work, strategies, and wins. This year, we heard from four incredible partners: JoAnne Anton from Herb Kohl Philanthropies, Rose Stuckey Kirk from the Verizon Foundation, James Rooney from the DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation, and Beth Schmidt from Emerson Collective. We discussed topics spanning teacher-inspired philanthropy, elevating the teaching profession, the quest to save youth sports, and bridging the digital divide, before diving deeper in small group discussions.

Introducing partners to our amazing DonorsChoose staff

We offered our partners a peek behind the scenes with four sessions led by DonorsChoose staff in our recently expanded headquarters. We shared how we incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion in our workplace, how we use data and insights to drive site experience, how we collaborate with school districts and administrators to meet teachers’ needs, and how we interact with our teacher community. Partners also had the chance to see firsthand how our volunteers and staff prepare thousands of adorable student thank you packages every year.

After such an action-packed few days, we can’t wait to get started planning Partner Summit 2020!

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