Thanks in great part to "Waiting For 'Superman' ", America is talking about education. As a former history teacher in the Bronx, I'm thrilled to see such a spirited discussion.
But after we talk about the problems in our public schools, we must take action. And here's where it gets complicated and overwhelming. What can one person do to change education in America?
After seeing "An Inconvenient Truth," people were shocked and inspired to take action. They changed their light bulbs to energy efficient light bulbs, switched to alternate fuel vehicles, planted trees, and offset carbon emissions with donations. It was the little steps that put folks on a path to becoming active participants in protecting our environment.
That's why our organization, DonorsChoose.org, is involved with "Waiting for 'Superman'." At our site, public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests ranging from pencils for a poetry writing unit, to violins for a school recital, to microscope slides for a biology class. Then, "citizen philanthropists" can browse project requests and give any amount to the one that inspires them. Nearly 70 percent of our donors report that this is their first time donating to a public school. Nearly half report that their DonorsChoose.org experience increased their commitment to engage in civic activities related to education, such as voting, contacting local leaders or volunteering.
Thanks to support from generous funders such as the Yellow Chair Foundation, Pershing Square Foundation, and Omidyar Network, along with individual philanthropists, everyone who pledges to see "Waiting for 'Superman'," buys a ticket online, or buys the companion book will receive a DonorsChoose.org gift card. This gift card allows you to donate $5 or $15 to one of the over 20,000 classroom projects on DonorsChoose.org, no strings attached.
We want to help people take that first step toward engagement in public education. And we know that donating to a classroom on DonorsChoose.org is just the beginning. We hope that folks will connect with a classroom, hear from the students and teacher, and feel inspired to volunteer at a local school, pay attention to the school board, mentor a student, and support great teachers. We hope that folks are done waiting.