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DonorsChoose.org Transforms Classrooms

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I was incredibly excited when I learned that DonorsChoose.org was giving $5 gift cards to anyone who pledges online to see Waiting for "Superman". For those of you who haven't heard of it, it's an amazing organization that makes it possible for individuals to directly fund classroom projects across the country. A teacher can post a need for a new projector, a wish for a field trip to the Supreme Court, books and study guides...anything educational that she needs help funding.

Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org, calls it microphilanthropy. I call it a light-bulb-moment. Just like swapping out your light bulbs for energy-efficient ones helps to lower your energy use, this, too, is something you can do in just a few minutes that has an enormous impact. Your entire donation goes straight into the classroom, facilitated directly by DonorsChoose.org. And perhaps the best part is that the teacher and students send notes and emails to each and every donor, updating you on how the project is going. So while you are taking the time to figure out who you can encourage to be a great teacher or identifying who is on your local school board and where they meet, this is a great interim step that can be done in just a few minutes.

Last year I gave a DonorsChoose.org gift card to my sister-in-law for her birthday. She politely looked at the card, turned the card over, nodded, and said with a smile, "Oh, how interesting. Thank you." Then a week later I got a phone call from her and she was ecstatic. She had gone through all the classroom projects, found ones she liked in various parts of the country and gave a little bit to each of them until she had used up her card. She said it was the most fun she had ever had with a present and that she was now following the projects to see when they achieved full funding.

Now that over 50,000 people have pledged to see Waiting for "Superman", there are entire class projects that have been funded by our pledgers. Recently, Ms. G's "Parents Empowered!" request in Durham, North Carolina, was funded to provide take-home study packs as a way to help parents stay in involved in their kids' learning and support their learning at home. Ms. E in Webb, Mississippi, was able to provide ACT Prep Books to her students so they can study for college exams. Could it get any better?! Well, actually it does. I've just learned that when Waiting for "Superman" hits theaters, you will get a $15 dollar DonorsChoose.org code when you buy a ticket online through Fandango. You didn't know being a hero could be this easy, did you?

Lesley Chilcott is a documentary film producer. After being a producer on the Academy Award-winning An Inconvenient Truth, Chilcott partnered with director Davis Guggenheim to form Electric Kinney Films, a feature documentary production company. Chilcott began her career at MTV Networks and was part of the creation of the first MTV Movie Awards. She left MTV to produce music videos and commercials as an independent producer. Chilcott has produced It Might Get Loud, the Barack Obama bio-film A Mother's Promise for the Democratic National Convention, the animated short It Was A Dark and Silly Night, and Waiting for "Superman". She also co-founded the nonprofit Unscrew America to address sustainability and environmental issues.

This post originally appeared at WaitingForSuperman.com

To get involved visit, WaitingforSuperman.com/action