Local schools cash in on
national digital donation
By Linda Petersen
Apr. 12, 2018
MT. PLEASANT—Local second graders have some much-needed classroom resources thanks to the generosity of a multibillion-dollar company thousands of miles away from Sanpete County.
Two Mt. Pleasant Elementary teachers have been posting classroom project requests on Donors Choose, a nonprofit website that matches potential donors with teachers in need of resources.
On March 26, Ripple, a national cryptocurrency company, donated $29 million to DonorsChoose.org and fulfilled the requests of every teacher on the site. (Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency designed to work as a medium of exchange.)
“Today, nearly 30,000 public school teachers in every state and approximately one million students are receiving books, school supplies, technology, fieldtrips and other resources vital for learning through DonorsChoose.org,” part of the company’s announcement of the donation read.
Second-grade teachers Whitney Wheeler and Meagan Jorgensen at the school both had posts requesting books for their classrooms that were fulfilled by the Ripple donation. Both teachers were notified by email within a day or so of the donation.
“I have known about Donors Choose for a couple years, and it just so happened I had a live project when they funded them all so my classroom was able to receive a bunch of books because of it,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler estimates she will receive 35 to 40 books related to science, technology, engineering and math from this one donation. (They’re ordered but haven’t arrived yet)
She has since created another project hoping to receive some more books about science.
Wheeler, a third-year teacher, heard about the site from Jorgensen, a fifth-year teacher who has actually been posting on Donors Choose for five years since she became a teacher.
In that time, among other things, Jorgensen has received four iPads, a wireless listening center and now the books for her classroom. She said the majority of her requests have been fulfilled.
Sometimes the donors are large corporations like UPS and Wells Fargo, but other times the funding comes from individuals.
A man known only as “Alan from Cedar City” recently funded an upcoming fieldtrip for the entire second grade to the Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point.
“It’s awesome. I wouldn’t have these resources without it,” Jorgensen said. “It’s really hard when you’re starting out as a teacher to provide all the resources for your students.”
Wheeler said most teachers dip heavily into their own pockets to get the needed supplies for their classroom.
“It’s so important for our students to have access to these materials,” she said. “Even if donors can’t donate a huge amount, every little bit helps.”
Donors Choose was started in 2000 by Charles Best, a teacher at a Bronx public high school.
Best was photocopying a book he wanted his students to read when he realized a lot of people would be willing to help fund books and other needed supplies if they could see where their money was going.
So he developed a website where teachers could post classroom project requests and donors could choose the ones they wanted to support.
Wheeler’s and Jorgensen’s posts can be found at donorschoose.org.