By Ellen McGirt
September 14, 2017

Fortune’s Include U Challenge for September 13:

Today, open your calendar to underrepresented people first.

Instructor: Charles Best, CEO Donors Choose

In 2000, Charles Best was a high school social studies teacher working in the Bronx. Like most teachers, he paid money out of pocket for certain supplies — art, books, technology, even healthy snacks. Working with his students, he created an early version of what would become DonorsChoose, a platform that lets teachers post requests for help with supplies, and lets donors, well, choose the projects they’d like to support.

To date, more than $574 million dollars have been raised toward funding 974,000 projects, which reached 24 million students.

“We love that our platform allows people to give,” says Best. But the site also generates deep insights into the needs of teachers who are struggling to perform inside an increasingly contentious debate about public schools and education. “We aren’t advocating for or against any program. We are going to create a platform that says very explicitly what it is that teachers experience in their classrooms,” he told Fast Company. “And donors from either side of the debate — or any part of the political spectrum — can decide whether they want to fund it or agitate to change the underlying conditions that created it.”

DonorsChoose has announced a special fund to help teachers impacted by the hurricanes Harvey and Irma recover their classrooms.

75% of all the public schools in America have at least one teacher who has posted a project on the platform, and 94% of teachers say that their funded projects help them be more effective.

Find a classroom to support here.

For today’s challenge, Charles Best says to make room in your calendar for someone who doesn’t have the kind of network that allows them to access the advice they need.

DonorsChoose has long operated as a tech start-up with a heart, so Best understands the value of good, insidery coaching. “I get my share of ‘cold’ requests via LinkedIn from people who are launching non-profit or for-profit ventures and who request a meeting to get my input or help,” he says. “I wish I could say yes to all of them, but given limited bandwidth, I say yes to the subset who’ve written a compelling description of their work and who are underrepresented.”

 

Post your thoughts on today’s challenge on Twitter with #IncludeU30.

Looking for all the challenges? Start here.

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