Monday March 9, 2020

Oklahoma City schools among many that benefit from DonorsChoose program

Charles Best is a former teacher and the founder of DonorsChoose, a funding platform for public school teachers. He is also an entrepreneur, a visionary and an incredibly talented and persistent individual.

The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools has partnered with DonorsChoose to fund Oklahoma City Public Schools teachers’ projects since 2014. Charles is proud to say we are “legends” at the DonorsChoose offices in New York and hold the title of their largest education foundation partnership.

With the help of generous community partners willing to leverage their donations with citizen donors, we have secured nearly $6 million in projects going directly to our teachers and classrooms over the past five years. These are projects requested by our teachers, allowing them to create innovative learning environments for our kids.

We at the Foundation share the results of our endeavors regularly. What is less known is the story of how DonorsChoose got its start. Charles Best spoke at the National Schools Foundation Association annual conference last week and shared his journey. This story wasn’t a straight path to success, as is the case with many entrepreneurs.

Charles began his journey teaching in the Bronx. He wasn’t making enough money to move out on his own and lived with his parents.

He had a ton of ideas for creative ways to teach history to his students, but no funding from his school to do anything about it. He formulated an idea to build a website as a way to crowd fund for his classroom.

He sketched it out and asked a friend to build it. He did and it worked.

He then took the idea to other teachers at his school. With clever marketing by his students, and tremendous persistence by Charles to get media to pay attention, the idea took off.

To call it taking off is a bit of an understatement, actually. To date, four million people have given, reaching 38 million students at 83% of public schools across the country, with a total financial impact of $930 million.

The Foundation for OKCPS is proud to partner with Charles and DonorsChoose and we are delighted to be called a legend and thought leader. What we are most excited by is that our teachers are getting what they need in their classrooms.

Helping our kids become legends is why we do this work and benefits us all.

Read Mary Mélon’s new Oklahoman editorial.

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