Comedian Stephen Colbert, along with The Morgridge Family Foundation’s Share Fair Nation and ScanSource in Greenville, South Carolina, are funding almost 1,000 projects for more than 800 teachers at over 375 schools, totaling $800,000.
Colbert, a native South Carolinian and a graduate of South Carolina schools, announced the funding during a meeting in New York this week sponsored by DonorsChoose.org, a crowdfunding non-profit. The site allows teachers to create projects requesting materials or activities that will improve their students learning experience. Donors may support the projects that resonate with them, says Nathaniel Cary of the Greenville News.
“Using the proceeds of the sale of my old set on The Colbert Report which we auctioned off, and with the generous matching funds from The Morgridge Family Foundation and ScanSource, DonorsChoose is going to flash-fund all 1,000 projects in South Carolina,” Colbert said. “Enjoy your learning, South Carolina.”
The grants will be used for everything from new books to classroom supplies, school spirit clothing, and teachers’ professional development. Alexander Elementary School in Greenville, the site of the announcement, has been instrumental in the promotion of DonorsChoose.org projects in the state. It is a Title I school and is small, but it has received over $100,000 in grants earlier this year and will now be receiving more than $125,000 for materials and learning experiences through DonorsChoose. Requests from South Carolina’s public schools included erasers, pencils, books, dodge balls, and bulletin boards.
When Principal Sonya Campbell asked every teacher in her school to write one grant request this year, they did. Now, every teacher has had a project funded, says Campbell. Projects worth more than $5.6 million have been funded by DonorsChoose.org since 2005.
Lesley Messer of ABC News quotes South Carolina’s superintendent:
“It couldn’t happen at a better time because it’s Teacher Appreciation Week,” said schools Superintendent Molly Spearman in a video posted on the newspaper’s website. “That is wonderful. We are so proud you’re from South Carolina!”
Colbert is a member of the board of directors for DonorsChoose.org. The crowdfunding site has been supporting teachers and students since 2000. It began when Charles Best, a history teacher at a Bronx high school, found he was spending his own money on school supplies. He also noticed that his colleagues are doing the same.
He came up with a website design on which teachers can post classroom project requests, and the philanthropists who donate can become heroes for as little as $5. When he asked his colleagues to post projects and no donors appeared, Best anonymously funded the projects himself. His colleagues thought the website is working and the word gets out.