Donors Choose: "that doesn't make sense!" (#donorschoose)

Nov 04 2010 Published by under Donors Choose

A few evenings ago PalKid surprised me with the fact that MrsPal was born very close to the time Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed (I wasn't surprised by the fact, but by her knowledge of it).  I asked her if she knew who MLK was, and she said, "Not really."  I started to sketch it out in terms a first grader might understand, telling her the story of Rosa Parks, a woman I was fortunate enough to have met.  As I explained to her that Ms Parks would not give up her seat to a white passenger and was arrested, PalKid said, "That doesn't make sense!"  I explained it in a few more ways but she couldn't understand such insanity.

A free society remains free only if its populace is educated.  When education is tied to wealth, democracy becomes plutocracy.  Segregation doesn't make sense if you favor freedom over servitude. That public schools, the base of our democracy, must rely on charities for essential supplies just doesn't make sense if you favor democracy over plutocracy.  But until we can fix the our schools, we must help them, and that's what Donors Choose does so effectively.  It allows teachers to identify pressing needs and donors to pick projects that they agree are worthy.

The yearly Donors Choose challenge is drawing to a close.  Hewlett-Packard is going to match donations, so every dollar you give makes a difference.  Our current 29 donors have reached nearly 900 kids.  While the total amount we raise is important, participation is as well.  I'd love to see that 29 grow to 50, even through 1-5 dollar donations.  There are several worthy projects in impoverished Michigan schools.  Please help.

3 responses so far

  • Anna says:

    PalMD - It's been an honor to have you involved in Science Bloggers for Students. Here's to a successful last 5 days of the challenge!

    - The Team

  • Jenny says:

    Tiny donations truly can make a critical difference to the fate of a DonorsChoose project because after a project reaches something like 1/3 of its funding, the number of donors plays a decisive role in the DonorChoose algorithm for deciding which projects to display on the first page of the site's main project list. This is evident from looking at that page:

    Once a project makes it to the front page of the main site, it tends to get funded fast because many people see it. That makes a huge difference when a project is just a few days away from expiring. In addition, people often tend to follow others' judgment, so a project with a lot of donors is more likely to get donations than an essentially identical one which hasn't been lucky enough to have much previous notice. Again, for a time-critical project, the more donors the better.

    On Pal MD's giving page are two Michigan projects nearing expiration. One will provide read-aloud listening to kids following along in a book; in this class, many kids are not lucky enough to hear much or any reading at home. I believe that a listening center can have a big effect on kids' whole educational experience down the line. It can help them not to wind up in a GED class when they're 20 - or 40 - struggling to acquire enough vocabulary to read passages and understand questions on a 9th grade level test which they could easily have passed if they'd gotten proper literacy help as kids. The project needs $215 and could be finished fast by the influx of donors to the front page - but it has only 3 donors at the moment, so it will never be chosen for the front page. Perhaps ten $1 donations would get it in a substantially stronger position to get funded.

    Similarly, there's a project to provide preschool building blocks for kids who don't have much in the way of toys at home. Building blocks are a basic and highly valuable toy; they help develop logical thinking, problem solving, spatial awareness, and creativity, as well as cooperation and language when children play together. Building with blocks, though it may seem childish, forms an early foundation for later success in math and technical fields; this project is aimed at children who aren't going to get that foundation elsewhere. The project has $348 to go and 9 donors, which is doing better than the other, but several $1 donations would improve its chances for full funding. And of course, several $5 donations would be even better 🙂

    Readers here have been incredibly generous already in response to PalMD's outstandingly conscientious appeals, and times are hard, so many may not be in a position to give. That's totally understandable. But if anyone can spare $1 or $5, I urge you to consider doing so. On DonorsChoose, $1 is not just project funding - it's a vote.

  • Mariam Farhat says:

    Yes...I too have been blessed to have such wonderful donors through Donors Choose. Without the generousity of the donors, my students would not have rich learning materials in their hands! Every $1 counts and no donation is too small!

    View my projects at

    All support is greatly appreciated!