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Our Favorite Moments from the 2018 DonorsChoose.org Partner Summit


Each year, we bring together our most generous corporate and foundation partners for Partner Summit: two days of inspiration, learning, and connecting with each other and the DonorsChoose.org mission.For the first time, we brought Partner Summit to Los Angeles, where we celebrated the more than $68 million that partners have contributed to support classrooms this school year.Here are some of the many highlights:

Visiting the teachers and students of Marina Del Rey Middle School

Teachers at Marina Del Ray MS

Partner Summit began with an open house at Marina Del Rey Middle School, one of the country’s most active schools on DonorsChoose.org. Our partners explored several classrooms and saw firsthand the various needs their support has addressed, from marine biology lessons, to cooking tools for special needs students, to mental health and wellness resources. We ended our day in the school garden, where teachers shared strawberries plucked right from the vine.

Thank you for the opportunity to share. It meant a lot to all of the teachers, and students know that "those people" that give "cool stuff" to schools cared enough to come visit Marina. - Principal Machado, Marina Del Rey Middle School
A panel of teachers

Later that evening, several teachers and the principal from Marina Del Rey Middle School joined our team at Creative Artists Agency for a panel discussion about the teacher experience and the dreams they have for their students.

Great insights from our guest speakers

Our speakers

After kicking off the day with a look at several inspiring teacher stories, we heard from wonderful speakers who donated their time to join us for the day. Dr. John King, Jr., former U.S. Secretary of Education, shared how teachers saved his life and put him on the path toward fighting for quality education for all students.

For many kids who are experiencing trauma, crisis, or poverty, school is the place that saves their lives. And we have to give teachers the tools to make school that place for students. - Dr. John King, Jr.

Gwyneth Paltrow spoke to us about her role and challenges as an entrepreneur, the #MeToo movement, her special announcement with Stephen Colbert, what it takes to lend voice to a children’s audiobook, and the bright future she envisions for her children.

There’s something quite special and ferocious about this generation. I think they’re going to fix everything. - Gwyneth Paltrow

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti shared his experience as mayor of Los Angeles, the excitement around hosting the Olympics in 2028, how he’s addressing homelessness in his city, and the benefits of students learning multiple languages.

If you can’t speak people’s language, you can’t understand the world, and if you can’t understand the world, you can’t compete in the world. The importance of knowing those languages will determine our economic success. - Mayor Eric Garcetti

Harvard Professor Michael Norton closed out the day, sharing what he’s learned about money and happiness, and how organizations can engage more of their stakeholders in philanthropy to have a greater impact.

If you think money can’t buy happiness, you’re not spending it right. - Michael Norton

Engaging discussions among partners

Our partners in conversation

This year, we continued the tradition of our Partner Point of View panels to help our partners learn from each other — the experts! — about top philanthropy and corporate social responsibility topics. Neeraj Aggarwal of Rebuild Texas Foundation, Sally McCrady of PNC, Maya Enista Smith of The Born This Way Foundation, and Greg Terk of Chevron shared their insights on their work with DonorsChoose.org and others to drive social change, which led to productive small group discussions.We also introduced a new Knowledge Sharing session this year, where small groups organized themselves around topics they were eager to discuss, like corporate activism, in-store and point-of-sale campaigns, and leveraging data to tell impact stories.

Exploring the new exhibit at Annenberg Space for Photography

The space

The generous team at the Annenberg Space for Photography donated their exhibit space as our Partner Summit venue on the eve of their new exhibit, Not An Ostrich. We were very grateful for the beautiful setting, and for a sneak peek at the exhibit before it opened to the public.We’re already looking forward to next year!

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