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Project Screening at DonorsChoose

We takes trust and accountability seriously, which is why we screen every project created and photo submitted.


As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, we take trust and accountability seriously. We screen every project created and photo submitted to ensure teachers demonstrate how the requested resources will improve student learning and that student safety and privacy is protected.


Our team of 250 “Teachers-as-Screeners” (TAS) volunteers look at every classroom request before it’s posted to our site. These volunteers are experienced DonorsChoose teacher-users and are given in-depth training on the elements of an eligible project.TAS volunteers are supported by our staff, who offer guidance, provide feedback, and use their expertise make final decisions when needed. With the support of our team, volunteers aim to review every project within three days of submission so that teachers can take advantage of time-sensitive funding offers.


When we review projects, we first determine whether or not the project is eligible for DonorsChoose.

Educator Eligibility

To create a project on DonorsChoose, teachers must:

  • Be employed full-time by a US public school or district
  • Be a “front-line” educator (classroom teacher, librarian, guidance counselor, etc.)
  • Work with students at least 75% of their time

Project Eligibility

All DonorsChoose projects must meet the following criteria:

  • All requested resources must be used by students or provide a student experience Projects requesting Professional Development resources must show how the resources will help enhance their students’ experience
  • The request must be appropriate to a teacher’s school (e.g., if a school can only service PC devices, teachers should not request Apple products)
  • The project cannot foster discrimination or proselytize a religious or political viewpoint
  • Cost of labor, capital improvements to the school or grounds, vehicle purchases, salaries, or royalty/rental fees may not be requested
  • We encourage teachers to submit projects that can be carried out at anytime during the school year, as it can take anywhere from four minutes to four months for a project to be fully funded

Essay Screening

Along with evaluating each project’s overall eligibility, our screeners review project essays with an eye for the following:

  • Resource description. Teachers should describe the exact resources they’re requesting and how students will use them.
  • Student experience description. Teachers should describe how students will benefit from the resources, if funded.
  • Privacy. Project descriptions may not include student names (first or last), full school names (initials and abbreviations are acceptable), room numbers, or social media handles and accounts.

If project essays do not meet these requirements, our screeners will send the project back to the teacher for editing before it’s posted to our site.

Photo Screening

The classroom photos that teachers submit along with their project are screened closely to ensure student privacy and safety is protected. We look for a few things:

  • Identifying materials. Photos may not show identifying information, like a student’s name or a room number.
  • Student prominence. A student’s face may not take up more than one-quarter of the photo.
  • Content. Photos may not include clip art, and student faces may not be censored by emojis, graphics, or blurring.

We provide teachers with guidelines on taking safe classroom photos. If a photograph is unsafe or ineligible, our screeners will immediately return the project to the teacher; we won’t review the rest of the project until they provide an eligible image. Additionally, we ask all teachers to have parents sign permission slips before submitting photos of students.


We strongly encourage teachers to use “asset-framing” language in their project essays —  emphasizing students’ strengths, goals, and dreams instead of the things they may personally lack or the challenges they face. Learn more.

Questions? Contact Us!

Kirk Smiley | Principal Director, Advocacy and Public Partnerships

ksmiley@donorschoose.org | 317-403-9233

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