Donors Choose Bloggers Challenge: Going For The Threepeat

For the past two years, this blog community has won the tech category of the Donors Choose Bloggers Challenge, now renamed the Social Media Challenge.

In 2007, we raised $18,538 via 92 donations, and impacted 2,549 public school students.

In 2008, we raised $17,029 via 80 donations and impacted 4,545 public school students.

I would like us to win the tech category again and I’d also like to see if we can break $20k this year.

I am going to try something new in order to make both things happen. In November, I am going to host a Meetup at a public school in lower manhattan that will include some other popular tech bloggers and also some of the public school teachers we are going to help this year. The only way you get into the Meetup is to give something to a public school teacher’s project on this community’s giving page.

This year our community’s giving page is going to be focused on NYC public school teacher projects in the most needy neighborhoods.

Of course you can give to our giving page even if you have no interest or if you can’t make the Meetup. And I’d encourage all of you to start giving right now. I kicked it off with a $100 donation and will continue to make donations as we move through the month. But I won’t win this all by myself. So I will need your help. You can click on this widget or on the banner on the right side of this blog to get started.

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#hacking education#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. karen_e

    Wouldn’t it be great if our schools had all the money they need, and the Army had to hold a Donors Choose campaign to buy a bomber?

    1. andyswan

      Our schools have all the money they need and then some. It would be wonderful if they had all the quality parenting they needed, however.

      1. ShanaC

        It takes a community to raise a child. I’ve cried from seeing community weaknesses, and community desires to strengthen itself.

        1. fredwilson

          I’m starting to see the value of the community on our kids as they become young adults.

    2. Dave Pinsen

      It must have been a long time since you saw the hoary bumper sticker you’ve attempted to paraphrase there. The Army doesn’t have any bombers. You’re thinking of the Air Force.And by the way, non-profits supporting the Army (and other services) does raise money from donors for ancillary stuff (e.g., entertainment equipment for servicemen).A third point, since I am loosened up now: if you add up the money we spend on public education in this country, at the local, state, and federal levels (most of it is at the local level), it’s about what we spend on defense. It may even be more: I haven’t looked up the numbers in the last couple of years.

      1. Peter Renshaw

        “… if you add up the money we spend on public education in this country, at the local, state, and federal levels (most of it is at the local level), it’s about what we spend on defense. It may even be more …”Defence at 4% (2005) [0] and education at 7% of GDP (2007-006). [1] But there is no mention of costs associated in the intelligence community. You can read more about the breakdown of spending for education in the reference.Reference[0]4.06%CIA Factbook, North America :: United States, Military expenditures…[1]7% of gdp on educationUS Department of Education.”Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G-8 Countries” (NCES 2007-006)…

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Thanks for doing the legwork on that. Looks like we spend even more than I thought we did on education. Interesting, too, that this study you linked to notes that we spend more per pupil on primary and secondary education than Japan does, and yet our students don’t perform as well, on average, in math and science. How can that be? The mind boggles. It’s a riddle wrapped in an enigma.

          1. fredwilson

            What if we spent a portion of what we spend on defense educating the poorest and least educated in the world?

          2. Dave Pinsen

            I think there are more effective ways of helping the world’s poorest. Education is far from a panacea for economic advancement, here or elsewhere.

          3. Dave Pinsen

            Fred,I’ve mentioned this charity on my blog before, but the Business Council for Peace (formerly Business Women for Peace) has what seems like an effective approach in helping the poor overseas by finding and nurturing local entrepreneurs who may be capable of building small or medium sized enterprises in their countries. I think there may be more bang for the buck in that strategy than in spending more money generally on education.That said, one of the biggest problems the global poor tend to have is corrupt, dysfunctional, virtually non-existent, or — for lack of a morally-neutral word — evil, government. That makes me doubtful of the long term prospects of BPeace’s projects in Afghanistan. But their work in Rwanda may be more promising. The current president of that country, Paul Kagame, seems to have a constructive attitude toward economic development.Also, incidentally, my sister is an NYC public school teacher. I forwarded this post to her. Maybe I can get her to donate and attend the Meetup.

          4. fredwilson

            Putting money in people’s pockets and food on their tables is certainly more impactful than educating them. Its also true that if you do that, the thing they will most want to do is educate their children

          5. Peter Renshaw

            “… Its also true that if you do that, the thing they will most want to do is educate their children …”I’d agree.”… In 2002, I built my first of several windmills to provide my family with electricity and irrigation. This was in Malawi, where a terrible drought and famine had destroyed our maize crops and killed thousands of people. The famine also forced me to drop out of secondary school because my father could no longer afford my fees. Determined to continue my education, I began visiting a local library, funded by the Americans, where I quickly fell in love with science. As the hunger clawed its way across our country, the library was where I escaped and became lost in discussions of electromagnetism, simple motors and electricity — my favorite topic, since only 2 percent of Malawi enjoyed such a luxury. …”William Kamkwamba would probably agree as well ~ http://changeobserver.desig


    Fred, Thanks for your continued support of the and the Social Media Challenge. We’re confident that the aVC community will rise to the challenge!

  3. Jeff O'Hara

    I just donated! Now everyone else, put your money where your mouth is 🙂 Education/learning is what makes the world go round and something I and my startup is heavily invested in.

    1. fredwilson

      Jeff – thanks so much!

      1. Jeff O'Hara

        Not a problem at all. I think we are going to do something on Edmodo for this too. Going to discuss it with Nic.

  4. David Fano

    Hi Fred!! We run (proving I’m a blogger, not a plug, not really a site for this crowd 😉 ) a design technology blog for architects and run our consultancy out of New York so we would love to participate. Also….. I live on maiden and pearl and my partners live on front street so we have no excuse. going to make a donation now. How else could we help? Thanks for doing this. Dave

    1. David Fano

      Here is the re-post. Hope we can get some architecture geeks like me to pitch in 🙂

  5. kidmercury

    well i dislike donors choose with a passion, as they do nothing more than enable a rotten public school system that needed to be destroyed yesterday. if i had the money i’d start a counter charity that paid parents to get their kids to drop out. that’d be a real investment in education reform.but in search of the silver lining i will note that donors’ choose does a good job of making things competitive, which is another way of saying they do a good job of manufacturing and sustaining beefs. with that in mind i hope the AVC community chooses to remember our rival foe community (mikey) — let’s stick up for fred and make sure we put the smackdown on mikey and his community of spam commenters. so three cheers for the AVC threepeat!!!!

    1. karen_e

      The kid: still our awesome bouncer.

    2. fredwilson

      You might feel differently if you think about the fact that every item procured through donors choose is the property of the teacher, not the school. Donors Choose takes the money donated, buys the requested item, and sends it to the teacher, not the school. If the treacher leaves, he or she takes it with them

    3. andyswan

      Kid I hear what you’re sayin but I think it’s important to recognize that the money is used to support the teacher and the classroom directly.It’s exactly the kind of direct “charity” that free-thinking, rational people participate in voluntarily. A stark contrast to the violent, confiscatory processes forced down our throats by the all-knowing hope-peddling lilies in D.C. As the son of a public school teacher…believe me, they are put through enough with their nanny overlords to get a pass on this one :)That said….I wish would tell us why exactly their events are open only to public school teachers, when private school teachers typically 1) make less money, 2) have a per-student budget about 60% of public shools, and 3) tend to outperform public schools significantly despite these obstacles?Are the children in private schools not valuable enough for us to work to close the SPENDING ON EDUCATION gap?

      1. ShanaC

        Yes, the parents are more involved though, unless you live in a great district. Schooling is decentralized in this country.

      2. Dave Pinsen

        If Fred really wants to raise money for a charity, he ought to invite you to a dinner party in New York, videotape the proceedings, and then charge a few bucks to view the video afterwords, donating the proceeds to charity. It would be worth paying for the entertainment value alone.

      3. fredwilson

        I’ll find out the answer andy

    4. ShanaC

      Kid, I’ve assistant taught. And I assistant taught in a tough school. Third graders. In one of the better tough schools, but a tough school none the less. At the edge of the Ghetto.One of the biggest non-regrets in my life is the following: I had a student who I remember passing the reading section of the city practice exams for the state NCLB exams with flying colors (roughly 97% correct), and answering a total of four questions right on the math, could start fixing the ancient school computers, and had already flunked the third grade once. His family had just bought their first computer at home that year. At the time they didn’t have internet access. Correction: His mother, from the gist I got. Despite being a troublemaker, I really believed in this kid. I really thought that if someone interfered and gave him reason, he could learn to program or something and get himself to college, at a minimum.He was disturbing me once when I was trying to tutor “Intro to Writing for Third Graders,” for state exams. I was freaking a bit because the city had screwed up grading for this school, and I had hand graded for this class. The numbers were not good, so I was being a bit overly intense about basic skill building. It got to the point where I had to pull this third grader out of the class for a talking to. He told me then that the skills I was teaching were kind of pointless and were unnecessary, I flipped. I told him I never wanted to hear that attitude again in his life. I’m sorry I flipped a bit by his attitude, I’m not sorry that I had to say to him that he could rise above it and that he is smarter. I just wishWhile the extended communities of these places can and often are strong, the immediate structure can be weak. There isn’t necessarily someone immediately to reinforce, or even teach the parents. (Having spoken to parents, uncles, grandparents- who will try to make way to parent-teacher conferences if they feel strongly and that immediate family isn’t perfect). Further, exposure to a wider world is really limited.That kid above, I’m really hoping, will not drop out. I don’t know. He can’t do math. He’s never been to the library, as far as I could tell. He wasn’t atypical for this class of more than 30 at all, except for being surprisingly brighter than expected, if you looked closely. I saw preliminary city exam scores for that class. Majority flunked both math and reading, by a small score of basic competency. I had three or four kids who essentially chose answers at random. And I knew of at least two kids who definitely could not read and would not do anything about it, and instead would disturb the class to hide that fact.This kid at least has a goal (to be a wrestler or a truckdriver, though I really wish he said “to be a programmer and to find math less boring”) The situation is not hopeless (I got kids who you would never guess write their first essay-like materials.). I’m not sure he’ll find enough people along the way to help him stick to his goals, or at least try and expand them. I tried, I wanted him to research the first death of video games systems so that he could start learning about wikipedia and computer science, we had a very difficult time organizing this.However, unless you make education a communal issue, and make a larger body of people involved at every level, you are never going to get that kid, or a similar kid, regularly into a variety of halls of power as society changes. This is especially true if your parent is a single parent wage earner at minimum wage or just above, you will feel very drawn to easy versions of other people’s money a little too quickly within certain cultural motifs. KidMercury, since I think this city does socially promote after one flunk, if he didn’t pass or did pass the third grade, Where do you want this fourth grader to go, if you could do anything to change his life?

  6. Darren Herman

    A great cause as always, count me in.

  7. daryn

    Can’t make the meetup, but thanks for a reminder to once again give to DonorsChoose, I’m a big fan.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks daryn

  8. awaldstein

    Wanted to put it out there that its really nice getting a Thank You from the teacher. I picked a project that I could complete with my donation. This process is easy, personal and satisfying. Thnx Fred for setting this up.

    1. fredwilson

      They really deliver on the thank you part of this. I love it too