Crowdfunding Computer Science in the NYC Public Schools

Yesterday evening I got a three minute speaking slot at the NY Tech Meetup and announced the effort we are making to bring computer science to the NYC public school system. If you didn't read about it last week here at AVC, you can click on that link to get a brief description of what we are up to.

I also announced the crowfunding part of the campaign. We recognize that most of the $5mm we are raising to help bring CS programs to NYC public schools will come from a few large donors (most of all me and the Gotham Gal), but we want to make sure that everyone in the NYC tech community and more broadly in NYC can be a part of this.

So if you would like to be part of this fund, you can contribute online here. There's a minimum contribution of $10 and we will take any and all amounts over that.


If you want to give $5,000 or more, we would like to have you at our in person event on Nov 18th from 6-8pm at USV's offices. If you want to come to that, please RSVP here.

I know I ask a lot of the AVC community when it comes to causes like this one, DonorsChoose, and other similar things. I do these things to give back, particularly to education which is the key to progress and personal betterment. It is something I really believe in and I hope you all do to.

#hacking education#NYC

Comments (Archived):

  1. Tom Labus

    people will have to think on 5k

    1. fredwilson

      RightBut hopefully not on $10

  2. kirklove

    Very cool, Buster. Done. #kidpowerPS: The processing fee was kind of lame though. What the heck?

    1. Dan

      agreed. I don’t pretend to know about these things, but 7.9%+ $.30 right off the top (for the free plan) seems excessive for a site allegedly set up for non profit causes. Does anyone know of a setup that has a smaller processing fee?

      1. Dan

        The lowest I could find via a quick search is 3.9% + $.30, which included credit card fees. Taking a ~1% cut after processing fees seems fair.

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      They should integrate Dwolla as a payment option.

    3. LE

      Total fail on making any of the pricing easy to figure out. A quick check on the site and I can’t see what it costs for an individual to do a fundraiser. ((Plans and pricing is under “Non-Profits”.

    4. fredwilson

      yeah, i guess they have to cover their costs somehow

      1. kirklove

        Got no problem with that. Though I prefer the Kickstarter method. I pledge X dollars, don’t hit me up for the processing fee on top of that. Just seemed crass.

  3. awaldstein

    Good on you Fred!This is hard work, creating a new segment in New York’s giving community that moves their donations this way.I think that as more programmers donate their time as tutors to help, families will start to move their giving in that direction as well.It’s not where I put my larger donations personally, but long tail, I’m in and will donate later.

    1. panterosa,

      Arnold, a key person in CSNYC is the co-founder of MOUSE, which Fred and @gothamgal have supported. Sarah built MOUSE initially to take big corp’s old computers they were phasing out and give them to schools. She and Andrew created a huge volunteer corp to wire and ready the teachers and schools. The program is now in 35 states and 6 countries after 15 years.…It just made huge sense, and took off.

  4. laurie kalmanson

    #becauseawesomecrowdrise: done, sharedthank you

  5. Brad Dickason

    I could only give a small amount but I’d love to volunteer my time and knowledge to help. Can you recommend an organization or group that could use an experienced Product Manager who’s been hacking since he was a kid?Just donated as I am a huge, huge supporter of this cause. A friend’s 9-year-old is taking after school coding classes and going to game programming summer camp because he loves computers, but most do not have that privilege.

    1. Anne Libby

      Brad, iMentor sets up structured mentoring relationships for kids in NYC schools. They pair the kids with same gender mentors. A few days ago they still had 60 boys on a waitlist for mentors. Check them:…Time commitment is about an hour a week (email correspondence with mentee) and one evening meeting a month at the school…

      1. Brad Dickason

        Thanks Anne, I’ll look into iMentor. Has anyone else in the AVC community had experience with them?

        1. Anne Libby

          I’m pretty sure @fredwilson:disqus told us about iMentor. Some number of us are getting set up now to mentor kids at AFSE and BASE; iMentor is the vehicle for this.(Some of the admin stuff to get on board as a mentor is, eh. But the program looks solid and well supported.And I have a couple of clients who have been participating for several years who love it.)

          1. Brad Dickason

            Thanks I just signed up for iMentor and will specifically request AFSE/BASE.

          2. Anne Libby


        2. fredwilson

          i love iMentor. they are awesome. if you do volunteer, think about mentoring at AFSE or BASE.

    2. c1ndygao

      i think a great program for you to check out is TEALS ( if you can spare some time in the morning before work and teach the kids in the classroom, you will be able to see immediate and significant impact.

  6. panterosa,

    The NYTechMeetup was a great one last night hosted and curated by Evan Korth! So many great hackers showed their wares and with @fredwilson:disqus announcing this new funding and program there’s a palpable sense of excitement that there will be more cool projects coming from younger and younger kids.It made me so happy.

  7. William Mougayar

    The future of content subscription at AVC : Donate for a cause 🙂 It works, and happy to participate, as long as there is a class of tickets for the masses.I wonder what will happen when you Crowdrise (new verb, like Kickstarting?) a truly international cause with global implications, and you get a few million dollars raised from all over the world that way. Waiting for that one!

    1. awaldstein

      Crowdsourcing doesn’t as a rule create networks, it aggregates them around a transaction for a cause.Example of any cause with global chops that cold do that? It’s been almost impossible on a national level to do that with any efficiency.

      1. William Mougayar

        I’m sure there will be global causes that we can all rally behind. I am hopeful.

        1. awaldstein

          As am I of course.BUT–and I say this, as I do some research for a post with friends who have been wildly successful and those that have not with Kickstarter projects–intent for crowdsourcing doesn’t win.The tech community has been the most successful in crowd funding support behind causes, not may others.Love to be proven wrong here!

  8. Matt Candler

    This is awesome. I see a number of startup ideas worth supporting here especially related to bringing new types of teachers into the profession, especially those with some more exposure to starting and building businesses.

  9. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Heading over to toss in my contribution now. So excited I can be a small part of it :-)Speaking of kids and crowdfunding, there are only a few hours left of our own Panterosa’s Kickstarter for her supercool Ani Gram It game (like Scrabble for science/anatomy). The quality and craftsmanship that have gone into the product are inspiring.Go get an heirloom quality gift for that kid in your life…

    1. laurie kalmanson


    2. Dave W Baldwin

      I actually beat a deadline by 26 hrs. Outta character.

  10. john

    At my daughter’s high school the students get to choose an elective course such as music, drama, cooking or technology. In the first year of high school you attend classes in each one of these electives and in your second, third and fourth year you pick one of these electives for the whole year. In the technology elective they teach about computers as well as programming in the python language. The teacher chose to teach the python programming language because that is what is used in the local universities. However, if you wish to pursue a STEM program in college or university, they admit you based on your average mark in the required high school courses which are Math, English, Physics, Chemistry and or Biology. Taking an elective course in computer programming will probably take up a lot of the students time and effort but may not really count for much when applying for university. The student is probably better off focusing their time and effort on the required courses to get in the program of their choice and once they are accepted into a program they can determine whether they will need to learn programming. My daughter daughter is in her last year of high school and applying to get into engineering school so I need to remind her that it is very competitive to get in and that she needs to focus on getting the best marks she can in the required prerequisite courses. The colleges and universities probably only look at the elective courses after you have made the cut based on the marks in the required courses for admittance into the school.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      When I was in high school i took an AP Computer Science class. The exam and course were Java but I found them quite useful and most admissions committees looks favorably upon students taking AP level work, plus colleges will then apply your AP exam as a course credit.

  11. Brandon Burns

    Wander & Trade is finally launched. To support the CSNYC Fund, use the code AVCDOESGOOD to take 5% off your order, and we’ll donate another 10% to the cause.You have until end of day tomorrow to use the code. I’ll report to Fred on Thursday how much was raised, and will submit the donation, in AVC’s name, via the link shared in this blog post and cc: Fred on the whole

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Beautiful! Is the whole thing built on Shopify?

      1. Brandon Burns

        Yes and no. The back end that powers the store is Shopify, and everything is connected to Shopify in some way.The front-end design / code is all custom, as well as our shipping and payments processing technology. We’re a bit more advanced than Shopify in those areas. 🙂

        1. awaldstein

          Very nice!If you take shipping and payments out of shopify all you have left is SKU management and you still need to use their payment gateways to my understanding.Very curious about this as I’m dealing with how to build a wholesalers module off a web Shopify store and its not trivial.

          1. Brandon Burns

            You can use any payments gateway on Shopify, and most are already connected. You can even build and use a custom one if you want (but no one ever would!).The thing with Shopify is that its geared towards retail. Folks who have stock, sell and ship their own inventory. Anything outside of retail — marketplace, dropshipping, etc. — will take some hacking, use of their app store (which is super robust, but still doesn’t cure all), or building something custom.

          2. awaldstein

            True–we adopted a delivery based food biz to it and it was a significant challenge.Works very well but was basically a hack.Unfortunately as the business builds a large direct to retail biz it is in need of additional surgery, somewhat major.

          3. mikenolan99

            Is your model ship direct from manufacturer to the consumer? Interested, because I am an investor in a small batch artisan cheese company…

          4. Brandon Burns

            Yes. And and you’re talking to someone who always has at least 3 varieties of cheese in the fridge (and wine, of course).Anywho, yes, shipping is straight from manufacturer to customer. We can either facilitate shipping for you (i.e. buy/send labels) or sync our backend to the backend of your fulfillment house, if you’re using one.Ping me: [email protected]

        2. ShanaC

          very cool – any details you can reveal about payment and shipping

          1. Brandon Burns


        3. William Mougayar

          “We’re a bit more advanced than Shopify in those areas. :-)” I like that.

    2. matthughes

      Nicely done.

      1. Brandon Burns

        thank you, sir.

    3. Dave Pinsen

      Now I know where to go when I need to add to my mayonnaise collection.

      1. Brandon Burns

        may i recommend the bacon mayo. its pretty fucking delicious. 🙂

    4. fredwilson

      congratulations on getting wander and trade launched Brandon.i just purchased some shampoo from brooklyn. nice experience.i tried entering that AVCDOESGOOD code but it couldn’t find it in the system

      1. Brandon Burns

        Thanks, Fred. BTW, did you know that shampoo is from @bdickason:disqus’s company with his wife?Anywho, I set the discount to expire today — but it expired at 12:01am instead of 11:59pm. Thanks for helping me find a bug. It’s now fixed, and the code now works again.

        1. fredwilson

          that’s awesome. what goes around comes around.

    5. William Mougayar

      Do you ship into Canada, or do the vendors ship direct?

      1. Brandon Burns

        The vendors ship direct. Some ship with labels we facilitate for them, others ship from their fulfillment centers — we match their needs.Either way, the vendors can ship anywhere. Including Canada.

    6. kirklove

      Site looks great Brandon. Congrats!

      1. Brandon Burns


  12. New Yorker

    According to data, New York spent $19,076 per student in the 2011 fiscal year, as compared to the national average of $10,560. Washington, D.C., spent the second-most per pupil ($18,475), and Utah spent the least ($6,212).

    1. New Yorker

      New York spends more per student than any city in the world. Philanthropy is a great way to accomplish that which is being overlooked by the public and private sectors, the issue is how can the ny public schools not already be making this a priority.

    2. ShanaC

      we offer more speciality schools at the high end (stuyvesant) and at the low end (very specialized public schools for the disabled)

  13. marysitz

    This is great! Thanks so much. Something else to think about is the support teachers and administrators need when integrating tech products into their schools. It can be rough. And perhaps training students to help address this could be part of the answer.Now time for my shameless plug: if any of you are closet poets who are interested in mentoring young tech-savvy writers, our team at is always looking for new mentors:

  14. jason wright

    do you accept bitcoin/ satoshi?

    1. c1ndygao

      yes we do! you can email me (cindy at csnyc dot org) for more info.

      1. jason wright

        as a humble suggestion it might help if you were to display a ‘B’ for bitcoin symbol on your donations page. A fair few tech people have bitcoins lying around doing not a lot. they might throw you the odd satoshi – it all adds up. best of luck.

        1. jason wright

  15. Jessie Arora

    Fred- It’s great that you support STEM education efforts like this and use your community to raise funds and spread the word. Happy to make a contribution and for anyone looking to bring better CS classes to their local high school I highly recommend CodeHS-

  16. Tereza

    Hey Fred, I sent you an email from my corp account (terezan at microsoft dot com) a couple days ago about getting the EIN, etc. so we can put this in our matching program. Just let me know.

    1. fredwilson

      i am terribly behind on email. thanks for posting that here. i will search for it and reply. thanks!!!!

  17. awaldstein

    This is interesting….Where’s the details on embed?

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, i kind of want more links on that widget. i am working on it.details are here arnold

  18. Teresa

    This is simply wonderful. So needed. I just contributed and forwarded it all the parents in all my kids’ classes and everyone I know who cares about tech in NYC. So glad you are doing this!

  19. Friv Jogos

    NYC Public Schools, a great destination and we can put your trust in it.

  20. changeforkids

    Hi Fred, I love your mission here. I run a nonprofit called Change for Kids that provides critical resources to underprivileged public elementary schools. Does CSNYC have an elementary school curriculum (it looked like only middle and high school partners from my research of the site)? Would love to discuss further. – Colin

    1. fredwilson

      yes. i will email you at your email address