Something amazing is happening today.

A philanthropic “flash mob” is closing out projects on DonorsChoose in states and cities around the US in a single day. The event is being called BestSchoolDay and over fifty philanthropists, actors, athletes, and entrepreneurs are kicking the day off with their commitments which collectively close out about half of the open projects on DonorsChose.

The best part is everyone can join in. If you want to join this flash mob and close out the projects in your school, neighborhood, or more, head on over to DonorsChoose and join in. Your contribution will be leveraged by Sergey Brin and Brian Acton who have committed to match over $3mm of project funding that happens on BestSchoolDay. If we can close out all of projects on DonorsChoose today, we will raise almost $30mm in a single day for classroom projects around the US.

The Gotham Gal and I are participating in this because we want to help the teachers, the unsung heroes of the education system, who get up every day and bring all that they have into the classroom to help students learn and grow. DonorsChoose is an incredible resource for teachers to get the things they need to help their students. The Gotham Gal is closing out all the classroom projects in Montgomery County Maryland where she went to middle school and high school. And I am closing out all the classroom projects in Orange County, NY where I went to middle school and high school.

If you want to see this event unfolding live, check out BestSchoolDay which has a live map of the projects being closed out.

BestSchoolDay is a call to action for people across America to support classrooms in need. By funding so many books, art supplies, field trips, and other resource requests, this act of mass philanthropy sends a message: students in every community deserve the materials and experiences they need to learn. The Gotham Gal and I are excited to be part of this call to action and we hope that others will join in to make this a very special day for teachers and students.

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. Mike Zamansky

    Love this!!!!Thanks from the ed community to Fred and Joanne for not only being so directly involved but also helping to raise awareness and constantly beating a drum that really needs beating.I just wish there was a way of actually buying time for teachers. There were always loads of projects I wanted to get off the ground and frequently money wasn’t the problem (though money is MUCH more of an issue for many teachers).More difficult was finding time or space to deploy and implement or to work around DOE regulations to make things “legal.” The day to day of 5 classes + planning + grading + ridiculous administrative assignments makes it tough to actually implement new stuff.

    1. fredwilson

      hi mike. i heard of something that’s being done to open up planning and prep time for teachers. i can’t recall what it is. i agree with you that its hard to innovate when you are on a tight schedule all the time

      1. Mike Zamansky

        That would be seriously bucking the trend from the past couple of decades but it would really be terrific.I talk to a lot of EdTech people who ask me why they can’t get their product or service adopted by teachers when it will make their lives so much easier or better.I have to work through a typical teacher’s day before they understand that between the day to day and fighting fires, most teachers don’t have a minute to play with something new let alone make it part of their workflow.I really hope you heard right (and would love to hear about it if you remember what it was).

        1. panterosa,

          I struggle with getting teachers to look at things, even when it’s something they’ve secretly wished for. I would adore any advice on how to make the process easier of reaching teachers. Sadly, they. like the rest of us, have so many channels to look at, and many channels scream these days.

          1. Mike Zamansky

            A problem is that teachers have so little control over their day.I’ve seen a few cases where a teacher’s been able to bring something to their chairman or principal and the boss has really worked to give the teacher time and facilities to make it happen but those cases are few and far between.It’s really a shame but the system is a mess.

          2. panterosa,

            That’s a key insight, not just control over what they teach, but their day teaching, thanks.From the comments here, I was inspired to launch an idea yesterday, and begged and thanked the woman I met, who had 5 minutes if less. I promised to make everything easy for her to pass to others to see. I told her colleague in a different dept what I had proposed, and she agreed we should try to get it implemented. She thanked me for the leadership on this. Fingers crossed!

        2. Kirsten Lambertsen

          This. So much. Husband would love nothing more than to adopt new tools and tech to make things easier, but he honestly is under water all the time. Just when he thinks he’s got a bit of a system set, they move his cheese (see above).

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      +1000 My husband is a chemistry teacher right now, working every waking hour to keep up, and his super. is working to pack his day even more fully next year in order to make somebody’s scheduling job easier 🙁

    3. LE

      The day to day of 5 classes + planning + grading + ridiculous administrative assignments makes it tough to actually implement new stuff.A teachers assistant (that does not teach), I would think, would help with that?Small business has some of the same issue. By the a small business owner is done with the day to day duties and bullshit, there is little time or energy left to be creative and try new things. Was actually one of the reasons I sold my first business actually.

      1. Mike Zamansky

        I don’t know if a teacher’s assistant would help – the teacher will still have to do all those things directly relating to the kids so there’s not a lot to offload other than administrative assignments.Fewer classes and fewer students, space (at least a dedicated desk and computer) and relief of things like “cafeteria duty” would really help, though.Five classes at 34 per is way too much.

  2. Rohan

    Ha. So cool. Is BestSchoolDay a nod to Charles Best? (Like PageRank? :))

  3. obarthelemy

    I’d think educashun should be funded by taxes, not charity. How about all those “generous” givers, and their companies, paying taxes instead of avoiding them ?

  4. awaldstein

    A hopeful and positive note after a truly somber one yesterday!

    1. jason wright

      i couldn’t find the words for yesterday.

      1. awaldstein

        I have little time to hang out here or to blog lately but will on Carl who was a friend,

  5. jason wright

    is society functioning when essential needs can only be fully provisioned by philanthropic gesture? surely it indicates that the system is broken.

    1. fredwilson

      that may well be true but thank god for the generosity of people while the system gets fixed

      1. jason wright

        in the absence of a functioning collective system this is a laudable alternative effort.for the same reasons you didn’t fund Airbnb i’m concerned that falling back on the wealthy to fix things may leave some of the needs of the masses ignored.One Sun, and one Donald Trump. Optimism.

    2. panterosa,

      Gotham Gal did a recent post on public + private recently. I agree that to solve many things that will be the way out.

      1. jason wright

        Yes, I read it.

    3. Amar

      There is a difference between steady state (aggregate over long term) and the continuous adjustments needed on the short term. We need both public + private since short term survival is a pre-requisite for long term sustainability. Philanthropy is a great way to guarantee survival as the sustainability machinery adjusts to changes and challenges.

    4. JLM

      .In the US, public schools are funded by a local property tax. The Federal gov’t should have almost no role — correction absolutely NO ROLE — in local education.What is broken is the divergence of huge amounts of funding to obscenely overpaid administrators. This is tantamount to theft.Local jurisdictions need to take control of their own fate and get the money into the classrooms and create a reward system to attract and retain excellence.The biggest impediment to identifying and rewarding excellence is the local teachers’ unions who want more for everyone rather than driving excellence to the top of the heap. They are literally afraid of excellence.I raised the money for the first successful school bonds effort in a quarter of a century — after opposing such bond issuances for a decade. What changed was that the money was being used to put tech into classrooms rather than building yet another admin HQ.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. LE

        In the US, public schools are funded by a local property tax.Which is why it’s so retarded [1] for the Bern to think that we will be able to give free public college to everyone. In my state for example property taxes are through the roof (it’s the state that has the governor that likes the boss.)Local jurisdictions need to take control of their own fate and get the money into the classrooms and create a reward system to attract and retain excellence.That’s a bit like states competing for companies with tax credits isn’t it? A bit of a zero sum game country wide, eh?[1] “def: Slang. stupid or foolish.”

        1. JLM

          .The tax base for K-12 is an ISD (independent school district).The tax base for a community college is typically the county in which they reside.The funding mechanism for a public college or university is the state itself.There is no role for the Federal gov’t to play. When they do, it is an unfunded mandate and violates a goodly number of laws.Having said that, I would support service based free education wherein a student gets a college education in a secure job producing major and then serves to repay the cost.I, essentially, did just that. Went to VMI on a full ride and went in harm’s way for 5 1/2 years (had a 4 year commitment and got “stop lossed” due to shortage in my MOS (military occupation specialty, civil engineers)).I received tuition, room, board, uniforms, books, and received a monthly stipend of $250 which was a lot of money in those days.I also got the GI Bill after I served.There was the sticky wicket of also receiving a lottery ticket to get killed in a war.My “payback” — my service — was one of the richest experiences of my life as I got a platoon of 48 men as a plt ldr and 186 men as a company commander. I once commanded a unit with almost 600 men when the discharges at the end of the Viet Nam War got bogged down.An invaluable experience that I value greater than my MBA.The key to all of this is service. Let folks take real majors which result in real jobs and which require valuable service.I have a nephew who I helped get into VMI and he received undergrad scholarship, med school, and now is serving a residency in surgery. All paid by the Army. Once he started in med school, he was a Captain and got paid to go to school.He will incur a long service obligation but he will emerge as an experienced surgeon — the Army provides a lot of work in that field — able to retire at about 45 years old. Just hitting his stride as a surgeon.If there’s a will, there’s a way. You may have to break a sweat.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. LE

            My older cousin (about your age) did something similar. His father died when he was young and his mother (my aunt) had no money. So he went to college free somehow by agreeing to serve in the reserves or something like that. It wasn’t to avoid the draft because as the child of a holocaust survivor apparently he had a high draft number. Was for the free college.An invaluable experience that I value greater than my MBA.My cousin would probably agree (although what he did and what you did were quite different). He got a good corporate job (Morton Thiokol was his last) (even after going to a shitty college) and left that job at 30 to open several supermarkets and retired in his 50’s.I have a nephew who I helped get into VMI and he received undergrad scholarship, med school, and now is serving a residency in surgery. All paid by the Army. Once he started in med school, he was a Captain and got paid to go to school.I dated a girl once whose father was an ex airforce guy who wanted his daughter to do that so he didn’t have to pay for medical school. She ended up making him pay for medical school! (Was in that relationship I first heard about tricare, USAA and the VA issues). With the fathers airforce work he became a FAA crash investigator (he was a WW2 guy).

          2. sigmaalgebra

            > There is no role for the Federal gov’t to play.The old story has been that the top research universities get about 60% of their budgets from research grants from the US Federal Government, e.g., NSF and NIH.So, a prof applies for a grant in his specialty and gets, say, $200 K. Then, bingo, the university takes ballpark 60% for university overhead, and the prof gets $80 K for lab equipment, travel to conferences, grad students, an office computer, etc.The competition for the grants is high. The best US research universities are special sources of excellence for the world.

          3. JLM

            .Point made, advantage @sigmaalgebra:disqusYou are right and I am wrong. But, then I am a member of the “poorly educated” and you are a freakin’ doctor of everything.The JJ Jake Pickle Research Center at UT is awesome.You are correct.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Do you have powerful teacher unions in Texas? Where are these mythical teachers unions weilding amazing power? My teacher husband’s union doesn’t do squat for him, and we’re in NJ (a place people imagine to be very unionized). The teacher turnover at his school is shameful, but the admin staff have been there forever (like, since they were students there).I agree with your assessment except the union bit. What’s killing our schools in NJ, anyway, is not the unions. The dynamic here is driven by the entrenched local good ol’ boys and girls who wanna keep their jobs. And it’s also the unbelievably thick and unnecessary layer of overpaid administration that’s been added. We now have department heads who *do not teach* at all (and never have). They cut teaching positions to fund these ‘manager’ jobs. Just ridiculous.

        1. JLM

          .I think you are actually agreeing with me. Completely.The power of the unions is in the internal and external work rules.Teachers cannot be fired and therefore excellence cannot be created because everybody has the same tenure and rewards.I am with you completely as it relates to administration. This is the classic tooth-to-tail ratio problem.You have two phenomenon at work here — bloated, expensive, self serving administration and similarly bloated, expensive self serving union admin.They are both eating out of the teachers’ chili bowls stealing their opportunity, their chance to be rewarded for excellence, and their money.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I think we are agreeing on the important parts 🙂 (Which in and of itself is quite nice, no?)Teachers here can be fired willy nilly, until they have tenure. Then the bar is higher, but they can still be fired.

          2. JLM

            .Pragmatically, I do not see teachers being fired in the ATX. I do see teachers getting a quick belly full and departing on their own terms. Teach America notwithstanding.The bottom line is this — teaching is a noble profession and we have managed to make it into unrewarding, overregulated drudgery.I have taught as an adjunct prof — think zoo like, “look at the guy who actually has started a business, borrowed a lot of money, built some big buildings in the real world” — at UT, St Eds, Concordia Lutheran. I had a short stint at West Point.I love teaching. It truly is a noble undertaking, like soldiering.It is also a very smart way to enhance the long term job prospects before people become statistics.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. Lawrence Brass

            “The bottom line is this — teaching is a noble profession and we have managed to make it into unrewarding, overregulated drudgery.”And that makes it a second option for many people which would be excellent teachers, feeding the vicious circle further. My daughter has a bachelor in music theory and history and she is a violinist, and because she can’t make a living playing the violin which is her goal, she has complemented her income teaching at schools. She actually likes it, but she never planned being a teacher.In my opinion, solving the problem has everything to do with turning teaching and education into a first class option for young people choosing a career. It is already noble, it just needs to be profitable and safe for the teachers.

        2. Tom Labus

          That’s NJ all the way unfortunately

    5. kidmercury

      the opposite perspective is that society is broken if it needs laws backed by the threat of violence and confiscation to ensure education, rather than the voluntary, un-coerced cooperation of communities.

      1. jason wright

        Is that your perspective?

        1. kidmercury

          depends on the society and the government, but when talking about the united states federal government — yes. the more local the government, the less that is my perspective.

          1. jason wright

            i assume you are not in the wealthy philanthropist league…yet :-)what happens if your cohort sees an under resourced social need that you are unable to fund, and the wealthy just do not see at all because they live in a parallel but disconnected realm?not every wealthy person rides the subway.

          2. kidmercury

            your argument is that i don’t have enough money to donate to charity. so then i should be held at gunpoint and forced to donate? which is essentially what mandating it via law is.another way of looking at it is that if the myriad of taxes were reduced, there would be more money left for donating. i think society as a whole tends to vastly underestimate how much taxation is going on.

  6. William Mougayar

    Donors Choose keeps being creative. I wished there were similar programs in Canada and in other parts of the world. There is so much wealth to go around to help others.

  7. jason wright

    we seem to be heading in the direction of the decentralised, of identity, of apps, et.c., but what of the decentralisation of wealth, which seems to be the most pressing requirement to solve so many of the problems out there in the world we all share.

  8. sigmaalgebra


  9. Twain Twain

    We know what we know, do what we do, get to where we’re going because of teachers.They open the doors of our minds so closing out projects for them seems fitting.Best of luck in raising the $30 mln!

  10. bfeld

    This is so amazingly awesome. Amy and I just funded all the projects in the following places: Alaska, Boulder, Longmont, Brighton, Breckenridge, Richardson, and Detroit. I have little tears in my eyes – such a powerful example of what people and technology and some leadership can do.

    1. fredwilson

      wow, wow, wow. that is amazing Brad and Amy. thank you

    2. BillMcNeely

      Thanks for your generosity Brad!

  11. kirklove

    This is cool. Donor’s Choose is great.

    1. fredwilson


  12. Amar


  13. lisa hickey

    This is really awesome. What a great initiative, one that brings people together to solve widespread, social, systemic problems.It’s the promise of social media and apps—that it is easier to help. Yes, it’s easier to cause harm too, but that is simply another problem that needs to be solved. In the meantime, the ways that people can be helpful by taking small actions are extraordinary.Like other commenters, I don’t for a minute want to discount that our educational system is problematic. There is inequality at its core; we barely try to hide that inequality anymore. A system that promises to give people the means to support themselves that, in fact, puts them into debt that they can’t get out of for decades—there is something wrong with that. An educational system that immediately gives you less opportunities than others if you are born in the wrong zip code—that is wrong too.Progress feels painfully slow. Remember the days when you had to bake chocolate cupcakes to raise money for the PTO. This is better than that. This allows huge numbers of people to get resources to places that need resources. Is there something wrong with that? No. There is something very very right with that.For those who complain that the system is broken—what are the exact actions that you would ask people to take that you KNOW would get very specific results for those who needed it most? That is what #BestSchoolDay does. Tell me how to fix a broken system, and I will do that too. But in the meantime, having people take a very specific action to solve a very specific problem actually does bring results. And it helps call attention to just how much deeper change is needed.

  14. Kirsten Lambertsen

    This rocks so hard.

  15. B Tenneson

    Brilliant! What a positive way to problem solve!

  16. reggiedog

    Would be awesomer if the local government (i.e. the community, citizens, like us) felt that education was important enough to fully fund education.

  17. Aashay Mody

    This is incredible. While we have our politicians fighting over incremental improvements over in Washington, it’s projects like these that give me hope and have the ability to make a real difference.

  18. Chimpwithcans

    Meanwhile, in Cape Town we grapple with grappling with the past. The education system in South Africa is seemingly in deep, deep trouble, but it is stunts like these which make the headlines: http://www.timeslive.co.za/…Ho hum…

  19. Michael Maxworthy

    That site is addicting.

  20. Isabel Sánchez Hernández

    Thank you very very much, this is amazing!