Donors Choose Update

Our November campaign to raise money for classrooms focused on science and math education for young women is one third of the way done. To date we've raised almost $3000 from 30 donors.

In prior years we've raised about $30,000 from about 100 donors so we are pretty far behind prior years. I just gave another $250 spread around a few projects. I am also going to email (via donors choose) all the donors from prior years. So if you get an email from me asking for your support, don't be surprised.

This is the one thing I do each year where I ask community members to dig into their pockets. If you are so inclined, I'd very much appreciate it and so will those young women. Here's the giving page.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. kagilandam

    Good initiative and let the money serve the good purpose.There is nothing noble than helping education.I do it every year … towards tuition fee for 5 students (college tuition fee is very low for science/art students in my old-college run by trustee, just about 150$/student ). I wanted to keep it low so that i can stick to it every year.

  2. Matt A. Myers

    Education is the most important thing there is in life (aside from love).I’m going to go this week to my old highschool and write them a cheque.UK students are currently fighting to not have their tuition cap lifted. 24,000+ students are expected to hit the streets of London – I wish them luck. What most people don’t realize are things like the more educated people are, the less crime that exists. You either put money into education and society, or put it into jail-stays and security.I skimmed over… and the following caught my eye;’They (nine university vice-chancellors) argue that government proposals to raise tuition fees to as high as £9,000 and make deep cuts to teaching budgets “assume that higher education is of value only to the individual but not to society or the economy”‘

    1. fredwilson

      the public funding of education is a very complex issuei am not against it, in fact i happily support it with my taxesbut it is like medical care, an expensive and inefficient and at timescorrupt system

      1. William Mougayar

        And leads to a France-like bureaucracy where the government has a heavy hand in it.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          As with everything you need to look at the positives as they balance with the negatives. Quality of life in France is overall higher for everyone.

      2. Matt A. Myers

        It is a very complex issue indeed, and needs to be supported properly to make sure it isn’t inefficient or allow too much ‘waste’. An example, if you don’t have healthy kids, they won’t learn well.Similarly to medical care, it is more expensive if you let it be, once again if you don’t support it properly. If you let people get sick to begin with, if you let businesses let them get sick, if you don’t educate people on how to take care of themselves (and support that) – then the other efforts you put in are misplacing costs and increasing costs where they shouldn’t be needed.And sadly, many things are corrupt at times. Anywhere money is to be made there will be corruption. But it’s still fairly rampant even with government involvement – until of course it’s caught. But currently there’s a lot of things that are legal which are worse for a society than corruption, and those are freedoms that many businesses have fought for to be allowed to do to protect their profits.

        1. andyswan

          The slippery slope of Statism on display…..”This SYSTEM would work, if only we could also control _______” Repeat.

          1. andyswan

            You’re telling me the government had no role in relaxed lending standards,interest rate manipulations and the housing bubble? Why does fannie need aTRILLION?or that the bp horizon wasn’t inspected and awarded safety awards by thisadministration?As popular as it might be to write off tea party folks as crazy, I think thefollowing quote sums up our Outlook quite well…..Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victimsmay be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber baronsthan under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty maysometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those whotorment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so withthe approval of their own conscience. –cs Lewis

    2. RichardF

      it won’t have the same effect as 24,000 French students hitting the streets of Paris unfortunately.

    3. andyswan

      In France they are whining in the streets because they will have to work 40 hours a week until they’re 62 before others are forced at gunpoint to pay for their needs.In England they’re going to whine in the streets because they’re going to have to pick up more of the tab of their own education, rather than violently forcing it onto strangers who are actually producing (or their children).A growing recipient-class of Americans are starting to share this “gimmie gimmie” mentality, but they are still in the minority. As evidenced last Tuesday, most of us still prefer to EARN, keep, and do as we please with what we receive.Let’s hope it stays that way. I can’t imagine living in a world of such selfish greed as you describe.

      1. CJ

        There needs to be some EARN attached to the GIVE that we do as Americans. Property taxes are going up around here. Why? Because the state or locality is short of cash and they know that they can tax those who have it because they will pay rather than lose what they have. It’s extortion. In that same breath, we GIVE those who don’t EARN without asking anything in return. Why? Why can’t they perform some service for what society GIVES them to survive? Why can’t they EARN their keep, even if they aren’t currently gainfully employed or even if they aren’t ever to be gainfully employed.We GIVE to those less fortunate through the state with a gun to our head, while I’m not sure it’s the best way, it’s the current way. That said, why do those who receive get to receive without any strings attached, without anything asked of them, without anything due of them back to society? They shouldn’t and fixing that is the single most powerful thing we could do to improve the self-worth of those who languish in poverty generation after generation. Give a man a fish vs. teaching him to fish.

        1. andyswan

          Agree!Why are we paying people $20/hour to hold the SLOW sign at constructionsites while churning out week-97 unemployment checks for no return?The answer is rather simple: 2 votes instead of 1.It’s the Democrat way…. buy 5 votes with the monies extorted from 1.

      2. RichardF

        You are right they are whining because they’re going to have to pick up more of the tab of their own education.What you are not taking into account is that in the UK as a society, (whether you or I agree with it or not) we have previously decided that higher education is not just of value to the individual but to society and the economy.The issue should have been debated and it wasn’t. Massive cuts are definitely required across the board in the UK but at the moment the government here is behaving like the anti-terrorism laws apply to every decision they make …. i.e. they can do whatever the fuck they like.We live in a purported democracy here in the UK, I’m quite happy that people are out there voicing their opinions, we haven’t done enough of it in the past.

        1. andyswan

          No one has to sell me that what builds value in the individual builds value in the group. Self-interest is what makes society tick. That’s at the core of my beliefs.What I have a problem with is the idea that because my development will in turn benefit all of society, that all of society has the obligation to pay for it. If my development is real, I will be rewarded well beyond my investment, and the benefit to society will be a mirror image of my earnings.We agree….I just wanted to ramble 🙂

          1. CJ

            I have one exception to that: I think society should pay for my development if society expects me to pay for it with the fruits of my development. If I go to college and get a degree it usually translates into higher earnings which mean I pay higher taxes, it also normally means that the firm I work for generates higher earnings which means they pay higher taxes. Those are benefits to society. Therefore, maybe society SHOULD pay for my development as I’m sure to pay for it many times over during the course of my working career.

          2. andyswan

            Actually, you’re not “sure to pay for it many times over”. Many people spend $100k on a masters degree that adds very little incremental salary/tax revenue. Many others spend $100k on a law degree only to decide later to stay home with their children and not work at all.Your decision to better yourself should be yours. The weighing of risk vs reward should be done by you.

          3. CJ

            That’s true.

          4. Matt A. Myers

            So you base things solely on quantitative and not take qualitative into account?

          5. Matt A. Myers

            You’re also less likely to go to jail, to cause problems for society, to make better voting decisions, etc…

          6. Matt A. Myers

            There are certain areas of intellect and education where money and an equal payout to effort isn’t really a possibility – and if a society fails to see that they will suffer in certain ways. My mother, a teacher, has never been paid what she’s worth – yet it’s one of the most important jobs that exists. Other examples are the arts – though many people can get free education via scholarships, but that’s just other students paying for the education then — so then should we apply your logic of why other students should pay for another student’s education?I think you’d find that some of the most creative people come from underprivileged families where they weren’t necessarily distracted by things that money bring (or are motivated), and allows more time for thinking and analyzing, observing. In a different light, there are also some of the most creative people who come from privileged families who have the time to do what they want, but they will likely have observed different experiences and thus have different paths and solutions to problems which are equally as important.Most of the creativity time that exists today has only been available because of efforts in place because of previous generations’ efforts.I guess it boils down to if you care about the wellbeing of people who aren’t as intelligent and capable as oneself; It’s a valid option, but the test I wish everyone would use is “if you don’t know what kind of person you’d be when born, how would you vote to be treated” – I forget the philosopher who made this concept popular.. but he’s one of the biggies.

      3. Matt A. Myers

        Wish I had been able to come on to respond sooner.You don’t have all of the facts. The age increase of 62 is the main one in the media in North America because it seems ridiculous and is sensational, however there’s another group who will also have to work until they’re 65. There are also other ways than increasing the retirement age to deal with the issues.The French understand the value of time much more than in North America – your health is directly attached to time – they have number #1 healthcare in the world, and many full-time jobs are just 35 hours per week; This creates more jobs and also reduces stress, and gives people more time for socializing, their family, and keeping themselves more happy and balanced on their own and with support of family and friends.Also, when you state “they’re whining because they’ll have to pick up more of their own tab on education” – ignoring the fact that you’re using whined, when what they’re doing is their right (including the violence, but still illegal) – society still pays the bill in one way or another, whether by the economy or society not being as productive or as happy, healthy, etc..

        1. andyswan

          I could go all day on the silly facts and details….and I’m sure you’d haveplenty….I suppose the bottom line for me is that I will always reject such models offorced redistribution.They feed parasitic greed.Your entire philosophy relies solely on violence to compel cooperation.Mine is one of voluntary agreements among individuals.

    4. andyswan

      You used the right word, “fighting”.Just so you’re clear on exactly who you’re “wishing luck” to…..…My three year old is better behaved in the way he demands others provide for him…..

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Good attempt at winning a discussion by pointing out the %0.0006 of the estimated crowd size were violent / destructive — I’m not totally sure, but that’s probably below the national crime rate %. :)And indeed, I used the word fighting — not used in the sense you’re alluding to of a violent means of fighting; Any of the below three definitions would work though:”To strive vigorously and resolutely””To engage in a quarrel; argue:””To contend with or struggle agains”

        1. andyswan

          Everytime the tea party gets together, signs and singing breaks out…..theviolent fringe led by Beck!When Statists get together…..oh well….nevermind…..that’s just a fewbad apples.

  3. David Noël

    Done, gave to another two projects after your initial call.

    1. fredwilson

      you are very generousthank you david

  4. mikenolan99

    Done. My daughter is working on her science project – angular momentum demonstrated by getting two metronomes to sync. (Look it up on Youtube… it is cool!)She stayed after school to talk with her “most amazing” science teacher about it – and was so jazzed in the car on the ride home. “So now I don’t just want to be a doctor, but a physics or biology teacher or something.” That led to a discussion of prosthetic limbs…She’s 14.Well timed request, Fred!

    1. fredwilson

      yeah baby!that’s how it happens

  5. awaldstein


  6. RD Klineman

    Nice thought Fred — Charles Best is hard at work — RDK

  7. kagilandam

    Done.hope the payment went through correctly.

  8. Guillermo Ramos

    Done. Funny to see from Spain the email I received “Thank you for being a citizen philanthropist”. I understand citizen as a AVC community member…

  9. kirklove

    Done. Thanks for the reminder.Not sure if it’s really math or science, but knocking out obesity one bike at a time seemed like a great one. Biking FTW!

    1. David Noël

      I picked that one too

      1. kirklove

        I knew you were cool. 😉

  10. Tereza

    Thanks for the reminder, needed that.Short post….guessing you were out late drinking w Suster last night.

  11. andyswan

    I still think DonorsChoose would be far more effective at changing lives in a positive way if they would focus on getting motivated kids out of public school heaps and into private schools that focused on excellence.Why are we rewarding low-performers that already spend more and have the power of taxation behind them?There are thousands of shoe-string budget schools that have PROVEN they can dramatically change a motivated child’s life! Support THEM!FWIW I will try to find a program to support at DC because it’s a “price” that Fred has requested for his publication and I respect that. I’m hoping to find one that funds an innovative way to get parents involved in the classroom.

    1. Tereza

      Just a single data point but I’m, at the moment, loving the public school I just put my daughter in, in place of the (very expensive) private school she just came from…..which I did in part to free cash up for my startup but also because frankly it was too much of a social fishbowl…and the kids are a lot nicer. She needed a change and more room to roam.Granted, it’s a rich public school, not a blighted one. Her teacher is the best I’ve seen yet, seriously off the charts.I know that’s not what you’re talking about here, Andy….you’re talking about not supporting failing schools. I get it.I do struggle with how the teacher/student ratio necessitates the teachers to apply a ton of social pressure on the parents (= moms) to be directly involved in the classroom very regularly, to supplement them.With 67% of moms working, and in fact required to, this is really tough.So if you’re a working mom your kid feels like a bit of a loser because you can’t make it to Reading Time, or if you have multiple kids and have to spread across them, your kid feels shortchanged. I don’t think that’s fair to the child.Often the practical choice I see made is, private offers an ‘add water and stir’ situation. So if mom is pulling down a big salary, they pay for private so it’s a turnkey community and so the kids don’t feel like second-class citizens because mom is not doing a shift collecting pennies at the Scholastic book fair.On that topic, another thing I’d say that’s getting my craw right now is the number of piddly little fundraisers I have to process every week through Backpack Mail. Wrapping paper sale, booksale, fill the box with spare change for Leukemia, donate fresh produce to the local shelter, coat drive. And that was just in the last two weeks. I promise my 7-yr-old is not that engaged in each of these things.So much clutter I want to put a gun to my head.Anyone want to build a platform for schools to consolidate and smooth out all these millions of things across the calendar?

      1. Dave Pinsen

        “Granted, it’s a rich public school, not a blighted one.”NJ has been taking from rich districts and giving to poor ones for years to level per-student funding. Doesn’t change much in terms of academic outcomes. For the most part, good students make good schools, not the other way around.

      2. andyswan

        Tereza….we’re going through the process here….trying to find a suitable school for our little ones.Here is one we’re looking at:…With 2-day K and 3-day 1-3 and 4-day 4-12, it’s definitely made for exactly the opposite of what you describe….it’s made for stay-home moms that can be involved in a big way.The tuition is under $5k/year, there are 14 kids per classroom (no fudging the numbers using all faculty) and the SAT score average is off the charts.They’re able to do it because they recognize that school isn’t a babysitting program. Excellence is about learning the right core things extremely well….not drawing pictures of the poor indians with smallpox or watching SuperSize Me movies in class. It’s so intense that there is no time or room for discipline problems to develop….engagement is high.The best part: Zero fundraisers. No begging for money. $5k/kid turns them a profit because they don’t have to pay much for great teachers….(who wouldn’t want to teach 14 motivated kids with engaged parents…. 3 days a week, 8 months/year?)…..and they keep supplies costs to a minimum (no computers, calculators, TVs, decorations, etc) to focus on mastery of the core (math into science, latin into language and learning).Now look at Washington DC…. $14k/student, a fundraiser every month and they’re still begging for money because the kids can’t read, write and multiply. SINK!

        1. Tereza

          How old are your kids, Andy?

          1. andyswan

            Gearing up for K

          2. Tereza

            Good luck with that, looks like an interesting approach and it sure is a good deal financially.One thing watching my own kids and my friends’ that never ceases to amaze me is how vastly differently each one might respond to the same environment.I was as uptight as they come in researching and selecting schools for the first child. I could have written a PhD thesis or at least a great local guide to schools.Over time I’m evolving to conclude that we do the best we can to make the best choice. That’s our job. But there is also a pretty huge x factor of unknowns for any school/kid match, that you don’t know til you’re in there. Some kids wind up flailing at the ‘blue chip’ schools but then spreading their wings at one you weren’t initially impressed by.So I believe not only in school choice at the entry point, but as or more importantly as a child’s talents and weaknesses unfold over time. As that happens you need to be able to ‘pivot’ to get that kid what he or she needs.

          3. andyswan

            Agree 100%. We’re not sold on the school….I just love the message, the concept and the experimental attitude. My mom was a public school teacher her whole life….a lot of important lessons there:1) Teachers love to claim they are underpaid, but they generally aren’t. It’s a great lifestyle choice for a lot of moms.2) What makes a good teacher? Less students.3) What makes a great teacher? Great parents.4) Refuse to take notes. Learn to learn while being taught. Great life skill.

        2. David Semeria

          What’s with the no decorations?My 5 year old just started Italian school and his classroom looks like something out of a Solzhenitsyn novel.I’m trying to rally the parents to go in one Saturday and liven it up.My boy cries every morning – I would too if I had to sit in that place for 8 hours a day.

          1. Tereza

            That’s not uncommon. Many schools want to reduce or eliminate ‘noise’.I have walked into classrooms that would give you a headache, there’s so much junk on the walls and packed on the shelves.As in all things….moderation.Your little one still cries every morning, in November? What are his teachers saying about it?

          2. David Semeria

            Hi Tereza,Reduce noise? His classroom would make a graveyard look lively. The walls a completely bare white and the desks are arranged in a rigid matrix. It really is not too dissimilar to thisA lot of the other kids cry too. My older son had no such problems (same school) and his classroom is lively and bright. It’s all down to the teacher you’re assigned.Much more than in the US, European teachers are completely untouchable. The parents are afraid of protesting too strongly in case the teachers take it out on the kids.I’m thinking hard about ways to harness the democratic nature of the web to try and improve this situation.

          3. Tereza

            Particularly at the age my #1 goal was to foster curiosity and an authentic love of learning as evidenced by loving to go to school and being eager to show you what they learned and accomplished there.Some kids are shy or quiet. It’s not unheard of that maybe one child is an outlier and having a hugely hard time with separation. But past, say, Oct.1 (assuming an ~Sept.1 start date) concerns me and if a bunch of kids are crying then you are right to be asking WTF is going on in there.I wonder what democratic lever you want to pull to get a change. Do you need parents to petition/vote to get the teacher fired? Or maybe is it to get some transparency in the classroom by having parents rotate by always having one as an ‘assistant’ to ensure the teacher behaves.I will attest it is extremely difficult to get a teacher with tenure in the US fired. And yes, a Kindergarten teacher can have tenure. But a lot of the reason is that frequently there is not a unanimous opinion that the teacher is terrible, and there were some kids that teacher ‘reached’. Then you have parents fighting with each other. Eek!One thing I’ve seen work great at our (private) preschool is that one of the junior teachers is frequently floating and videotaping and photographing activities kids are doing including one-on-one interactions with the teachers. This serves multiple purposes:–the teachers use it is their own ‘learning material’ where the senior teachers coach the younger teachers how to be better. They have weekly staff meetings where they discuss each child and this includes observing tapes and part of the meeting is how each teacher can be more effective.–they splice an individualized video for each child as a video report card at the end of the year. The kid LOVES watching themselves ‘doing work’ at school.–it’s an incredibly lucrative marketing tool for the school, which is very happy to make copies for grandparents — who frequently are the ones who foot the expensive tuition as a pre-tax gift.–The other benefit is that everyone is always walking the talk of positive high-quality learning, because the tape is always rolling.My, how well people behave when people are watching your every move!Probably worth noting his school got a national award for use of data and technology in the classroom (the total strategy is more comprehensive than this).I wouldn’t call it democratic though — it’s Big Brother! LOL.

    2. Dave Pinsen

      “FWIW I will try to find a program to support at DC because it’s a “price” that Fred has requested for his publication and I respect that. “That’s the same reason I donated last year.

      1. andyswan

        This teacher should be fired immediately:…I wish Donor’s Choose would explain why they approved a project requesting money for “social justice” by using the following materials….”100 Ways America is Screwing up the World””The F-Word 03: A Feminist Handbook for the Revolution”My tax dollars at work. I wonder how well those kids are reading, writing and multiplying….but whatever you do….DO NOT TEST THEM….it’s unfair!!!!

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Good catch. Unbelievable. Here’s another book title from that project: “Assata: An Autobiography Assata Shakur, Angela Davis”. Out of curiosity, I looked up who Assata Shakur was. She is a former leader of the Black Liberation Army who is now living on the lam in Cuba, after escaping from prison 31 years ago, where she was serving time for the murder of an NJ State Trooper.

  12. Guest

    Put my seed in fred!

  13. jeff

    Amen to andyswan. I applaud the effort, but money spent on school choice would actually yield a real and meaningful reward rather than an ineffectual sense of satisfaction. Regardless, your heart is on the right place, so kudos.

  14. John Risner

    I don’t comment much, but I get so much value out of reading your blog I think of your donors choose projects as a subscription cost. They match my particular interest in promoting science and math education as early as possible, so I am happy to be part of the AVC communities support.

  15. ericstern

    Done. Thanks Fred for the reminder!

  16. paramendra