Charles Best is the founder of DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit where anyone can help a classroom in need.
Charles started the site at a Bronx public high school where he taught history for five years. Like teachers everywhere, he and his colleagues spent a lot of their own money on school supplies. Charles figured that people would help if they could see where their money was going.
With the help of his students, he created a website where teachers can create classroom project requests and donors can pick the projects they want to support. To persuade his colleagues to try out the site and post the first projects, he offered them his mom’s famous roasted pear dessert.
That was back in 2000, years before “crowdfunding” became a word. As of today, 2 million people have given $400 million to fund classroom projects created by 300,000 public school teachers, channeling books, art supplies, field trips and other resources to 18 million students.
DonorsChoose.org made Oprah Winfrey’s list of “Ultimate Favorite Things” and was the first charity to be featured on the cover of Fast Company as one of the “50 Most Innovative Companies in the World.”