Not a hoax: Cryptocurrency company 'made a lot of us teachers very happy' through donation

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Teachers are showing an outpouring of gratitude on social media this week after a cryptocurrency company donated an unprecedented amount of money to DonorsChoose.org.

The blockchain startup Ripple gave $29 million toward proposals and projects on the site, ranging from calls for new books and instruments to a weeklong field trip to visit historically black colleges and universities in Atlanta and Alabama. Thousands of teachers will have their requests funded.

DonorsChoose.org founder Charles Best encouraged recipients to use the hashtag #BestSchoolDay, and teachers responded in droves.

Maria Hernandez, a teacher who works at Helms Elementary, a dual-language magnet school in Houston Independent School District, posted a video of herself on Twitter thanking the company through tears. She received funding for her project to get Spanish-language books in the library that students could take home.

After checking that the email wasn’t a hoax, she said, “I’m truly, truly excited and I am very thankful for the donation.”

“And I am excited for my colleagues who have projects out there on DonorsChoose and were also losing hope like I was, because your projects weren’t getting funded,” she added. “So thank you so much to Ripple. I don’t know much about your company, but I just know that you guys just made a lot of us teachers very happy, so I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Lindsey Crozier, a 5th grade teacher at Riverside Elementary School in Michigan’s Waterford School District, tweeted that Ripple funded three of her projects on DonorsChoose.org.

“My kids were so happy finding out our projects had been funded. So many cheers and tears,” Crozier said. She later added that the projects sought to purchase VR viewers and other classroom technology for her students.

DonorsChoose.org, which started in 2000, estimated that a million students will benefit from the contribution. After the digital currency was converted into dollars, 35,600 projects posted by 28,000 teachers are now being funded.

“The teachers behind these projects work with more than a million students who are now going to get materials and experiences that they need to learn,” Best said in an announcement on YouTube. He appeared with Monica Long, senior vice president of marketing at Ripple. “I do not believe there has ever been a day when this many classroom dreams came true.”

Best decided to make the significant request to Ripple founder Chris Larsen, who had been an early supporter of the education organization, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“I kind of dared myself to send an email pitching an idea 10 times bigger than I’ve ever pitched before,” Best told the news outlet. “I was almost anxious that they would be offended by the ridiculousness of my ask.”

Stephen Colbert, another devotee who sits on DonorsChoose.org’s board, announced the donation Tuesday night on his late-night talk show. In 2015, he funded every request made by teachers in his home state of South Carolina.

Typically, teachers pay for classroom expenses out of their own pockets. The crowdsourcing platform was created to help teachers offset their costs. By midday Wednesday, according to the news website Chalkbeat, there were 1,200 new funding requests on the website.

Reach the reporter at corinne.lestch@edscoop.com and follow her on Twitter @clestch and @edscoop_news.

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