The benefits of a $29 million gift to a crowdfunding website from an international firm dealing in virtual currency have trickled down to eight delighted teachers at Northwest Elementary School.
Classroom projects valued at more than more than $6,124 were funded for teachers Lisa Jernigan, Karen Croom, Jessica Perry, Alicia Stanley, Lena Carroll, Samantha Rouse, Melinda Harrell and Samantha Waida through DonorsChoose.org after the donation from Ripple fulfilled every grant request on the crowdfunding site.
Of the more than 35,000 requests listed – and funded – on DonorsChoose.org, 10 belonged to the Northwest teachers.
Two were posted by first-grade teacher Lena Carroll, who learned March 29 that both requests – one from Dec. 28 and the other from Feb. 18 – were funded simultaneously. An email sent the previous night by DonorsChoose.org included an attachment to a video explaining the Ripple donation.
“I got up that morning and they were both funded and I was very pleasantly surprised,” Carroll said. “I had received two (through DonorsChoose) previously this year, and I’ve always felt you had to have one going because you never know.”
The nonprofit DonorsChoose.org provides a fundraising mechanism for school and classroom projects. Typically, a teacher posts a description of a project and its funding goal on the site. When the goal is reached, the nonprofit provides the teacher with the materials requested rather than forwarding the money.
The Northwest requests largely focused on literacy efforts and on technology incorporating the iPads the elementary students use as a primary learning tool.
“I’m trying to build up our classroom library and provide more leveled reading,” Carroll said, “so I got money for a mobile storage cart that will allow me to organize the books by level. About $1,200 will go for books.”
The $29 million donation from Ripple and its executives covered projects in more than 16,500 public schools, according to a March 30 New York Times story about the donation. The story described the audacious proposal of Charles Best, founded and chief executive of DonorsChoose.org, to Ripple chief executive Brad Garlinghouse: fund every request on the website.
The pitch Best first made by email and then in person to Garlinghouse in January paid off a month later. The official announcement, made two weeks ago, looked like the luckiest Easter egg of all for the Northwest teachers.
“We found out the day before Spring Break,” Northwest principal Heather Walston said. “Our teachers were very excited.”
Although she is in her ninth year with LCPS, Carroll is in her first year at Northwest and has used DonorsChoose.org to help set up her classroom.
“I got a big rug for the children to sit on,” she said, remembering the $600 request funded by a company in Goldsboro last fall. The second request, answered largely by her family and friends, provided books. Carroll is, after having requests three and four fulfilled in March, a fan of DonorsChoose.org.
“It’s a great funding source,” she said. “It gives people in the community an opportunity to help teachers and students and get them the materials they need in their classroom. People want to help. DonorsChoose makes that possible.”