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Troian Bellisario

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A Pretty Little Idea With Huge Potential: Open Up DonorsChoose.org to Students!

Posted: 02/ 3/2012 9:44 am

So it's a new year. That time to take a step back and think about what's important, what you're grateful for and how you're going to make the next year even better.

No question, I have a lot to be thankful for. It's been a mind blowing year for my show Pretty Little Liars. Fans have made it a huge hit on ABC Family. Our fans are amazing -- full of creativity, passion and IDEAS. We see it every day on our website and through social media. That's why when the network approached me about the "Bright Students, Big Ideas" campaign on DonorsChoose.org I had to be a part of it.

The campaign puts education in students' hands, and gives them a way to get the projects they care about funded. For those of you who aren't familiar with DonorsChoose.org, it's pretty incredible. Visitors to their site have helped fund -- largely through micro-donations of $5, $15 and $20 -- more than 200,000 teacher projects that served over 5 million students throughout the U.S., mostly in poverty stricken areas. The beauty of it is how simple, yet powerful it can be. For example, they've supplied copies of To Kill a Mockingbird to an 8th grade class in the Bronx, microscopes to a 7th grade science experiment in Detroit, and a field trip for a Baltimore history class to visit the Supreme Court in session, among many, many others.

Now, for the first time ever, public school students in grades 9-12 will be able to submit their own project for funding with the help of a teacher. ABC Family will fund the first 50 percent of all qualifying projects, leaving it to donors like you and me to provide the remainder. How cool is that?

Already 128 student-generated projects have been fully funded, which means that 34,484 students across the country have been impacted by this campaign. The projects are truly inspiring -- everything from kick-starting a student-run computer repair center, to providing a printer to students in juvenile jail so that they can display their art, to teen books for after school book clubs, cooking supplies for student chefs and recycling programs for our future environmentalists! And, I'm not the only one inspired by these high school student projects, teachers across the U.S. are saying that these are some the best projects they've seen! Also, thanks to Bright Students, Big Ideas! students are getting involved with DonorsChoose.org and are looking through projects and making donations to help their peers -- it's so exciting!  Seriously, check out the projects, you will be inspired too!

These high school students have great ideas -- they just need the funding and the tools to make them happen! Donorschoose.org is designed to make a little go a really long way, so give what you can. A donation in any amount makes a big difference.  And if you're a student and you have an idea for a project at your school, definitely work with a teacher to get it submitted! I'm personally really excited to see what you come up with!