• DonorsChoose.org lets you sort through the specific needs of specific school. You choose where your donation goes. The teachers themselves identify their needs and describe them. You can sift through programs by category, easily choosing to donate to issues close to your heart. Categories include music and performing arts, English as a second language, special needs and nutrition. You can identify the school location and age of the students.

    Charles Best started DonorsChoose.org in 2000 as a 25-year-old social studies teacher at an underfunded school in the Bronx. Originally started as a site to raise funds for the needs of co-workers, it soon evolved into a much broader project that has reached classrooms in need across the country.

    Educators submit their projects to the site and include a list that details what the money you donate will be used to purchase. If you contribute, you receive thank-you letters from teachers, a project cost report detailing how money was spent and photos of the class projects or donated items in action. Those who donate more than $100 also receive handwritten thank-you letters from the students. This approach gives much greater transparency in the fundraising process. Donors do not have to worry about whether their money is being put to good use, and updates from the classroom allow you to see directly how your money is helping classrooms in need.

    So far, Donors Choose has raised more than $24 million for underfunded schools. For more information and to learn how you can make a contribution, visit the site at DonorsChoose.org. Unused gift cards can also be used.

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