DonorsChoose Launches Keep Kids Learning Program to Support U.S. Teachers and Students Through Coronavirus School Closures

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Program enables teachers in high-need communities to send educational care packages to students while schools are closed. Donors and companies give over $6.2 million to launch program.

When students cannot go to school, their home circumstances will define their education, which means coronavirus threatens to widen educational inequity in America.

With many schools closed across the United States to prevent the spread of coronavirus, DonorsChoose has launched a new initiative to support public school teachers and students as they transition to learning from home. The education crowdfunding nonprofit’s Keep Kids Learning program provides funding credits that teachers can redeem for educational resources including books, basic supplies like notebooks and pencils, art supplies and other enrichment materials, and groceries for students who rely on school to provide meals. Teachers will be able to have these resources shipped directly to students’ homes while schools remain closed.

Over 4,000 public school teachers responded to a DonorsChoose survey in early March, in which 97 percent of teachers expected that coronavirus-related school closures would negatively impact students’ learning this school year. Teachers estimated that 68 percent of their students did not have the proper resources to continue learning from home.

“When students cannot go to school, their home circumstances will define their education, which means coronavirus threatens to widen educational inequity in America,” said Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose. “With Keep Kids Learning, we’ve expanded upon our traditional model at DonorsChoose while schools are closed to support teachers in our highest-need communities as they face a new set of unprecedented challenges.”

To date, donors and corporate and foundation partners have contributed over $6.2 million to the Keep Kids Learning program. Inaugural funders of the program include Bill & Melinda Gates, General Motors, Chevron, Equitable Foundation, SONIC Drive-In, Chris and Crystal Sacca, Theresia Gouw, Townsend Press, Lightbay Capital, Horace Mann, Oak Foundation, Perry and Donna Golkin Family Foundation, and NRG Energy.

In the initial phase of Keep Kids Learning, DonorsChoose is reaching out to teachers who have previously used DonorsChoose at schools where nearly all students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, the national standard for measuring need within a school community. Eligible teachers receive $1,000 in funding credits to spend on educational resources to ship to their students’ homes. DonorsChoose is contacting teachers and issuing credits on a rolling basis as funds become available. To date, 2,200 teachers have participated in the program. The organization is also working to expand at-home learning support to more teachers and students, offering donors the chance to give to a specific teacher or community, similar to the traditional DonorsChoose model.

Ms. Akowitz, an elementary school teacher from Michigan, recently sent her students care packages through the Keep Kids Learning program. “My students have been sending me pictures of the packages they’re receiving and have been overjoyed that I am still thinking about them even though we can’t be together,” she said. “Thank you so much for helping me bring some joy to my students while I can’t be with them.”

To support the Keep Kids Learning program, please visit http://www.donorschoose.org/keepkidslearning. Learn more about the DonorsChoose response to coronavirus-related school closures at http://www.donorschoose.org/coronavirus-how-to-help.

ABOUT DONORSCHOOSE
DonorsChoose is the leading way to give to public schools. Since 2000, more than 4.2 million people and partners have contributed $950 million to support 1.6 million teacher requests for classroom resources and experiences. As the most trusted crowdfunding platform for teachers, donors, and district administrators alike, DonorsChoose vets each request, ships the funded resources directly to the classroom, and provides thank yous and reporting to donors and school leaders. Charity Navigator and GuideStar have awarded DonorsChoose, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, their highest ratings for transparency and accountability. For more information, visit http://www.donorschoose.org.

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Christopher Pearsall
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