In May 2018, as the school year came to a close, a technology startup called Ripple made a very big announcement that rocked the education charity world. Ripple announced that it would make a $29 million dollar gift to fund each program on the Donors Choose platform, and for the first time ever, bring the number of projects requesting funding down to zero.
Donors Choose is a nonprofit platform that allows individuals to donate directly to public school classroom projects. Former Bronx public school teacher, Charles Best, launched the nonprofit in 2000. Without enough funding to buy all his students a book, he found himself making photocopies of a book for his students and thought to himself about all the personal money he and his fellow teachers were spending to provide resources to their students. He thought that there might be individuals around the country who would want to help these classrooms. And he was correct. Today, Donors Choose is available to every public school classroom in the country and teachers from 80% of all public schools have posted a request on the site. Requests range from classroom supplies like pencils and even chairs, to requests for funding to take students on field trips to tour historically black colleges and universities. What makes the platform unique is that teachers are able to make direct requests to the public about what will help them in their classroom.
Ripple is a company that utilizes the power of blockchain technology to make financial transactions more efficient. It also offers the cryptocurrency (or digital asset), XRP. With the funding commitment from Ripple, over 35,000 classroom requests were funded that will reach over a million students nationwide. This gift is the largest gift thus far from a cryptocurrency to a single charity and is part of a larger wave of new philanthropic ‘crypto-millionaires’ including the enigmatic Pineapple Fund, which donated the equivalent of $55 million to charities in bitcoin digital assets.
While many are skeptical about crypto assets relevance, blockchain technology has very real applicability in the social sector. Blockchains are already being utilized by NGOs that help refugees who have little by way of traditional identity documentation, for example. Blockchain technology’s transparency and portability make it well suited for situations like refugee camps and aid distributions – where an immutable record can be vital for an individual, particularly where a central authority, which traditional financial institutions rely on, may be volatile and rapidly changing.
Read the full press release here and follow their hashtag #BestSchoolDay.
Learn more about Donors Choose here.
Learn more about Ripple here.
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