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Back-to-School: Make an Impact

The debate team at W. E. B. Du Bois High School in Detroit was pretty much nonexistent. They needed file folders to organize their cases. They needed a computer for research. They had the skills but, because they were attending a public school in a low-income neighborhood, they did not have access to the materials they needed in order to be successful.

Enter Ryan Particka. For Particka, being a member of the forensics team in high school was a life-changing experience. It helped him realize that he wanted to become a lawyer and motivated him to work hard in school. While in law school, Particka learned of The Generation Project, a public charity that empowers donors to expand opportunities for K-12 students in America. He decided to share his competitive spirit and everything he learned on the forensics team by sponsoring a similar team at a Detroit high school. The high school that benefited? W. E. B. Du Bois.

Earlier this year, the debate coach claimed Particka's $500 gift and within a week received the materials his students so desperately needed. They immediately began preparing for the next competition. Two weeks later, they came in second place, with one of the W.E.B. Du Bois's debaters winning best debater. With the supplies they received, they could finally compete on the same level as their wealthier peers.

School budgets are shrinking. Many schools have been forced to cut subjects like art, physical education, and social studies. Sports and music programs are now nonexistent in many schools. But organizations like The Generation Project are working to alleviate this crisis, increasing access to educational experiences. Through a web-based platform, donors design and fund gifts they wish to share. Educators then browse the database and apply for pre-funded opportunities that meet their students' needs. Donors can track their impact through their philanthropist pages and receive pictures from educators once their gift is implemented. Particka's public gift page can be viewed here.

This school year marks our first full operational year. We're also expanding from our four pilot regions (Chicago, Detroit, New York City, and Washington, D.C.) to schools in New Orleans and the San Francisco bay area. To celebrate, we recently launched a $40,000 back to school campaign. With winnings from the Chase Community Giving Challenge, The Generation Project will double all gifts until a $20,000 pot runs out.

Giving through The Generation Project is simple and direct:

1. Sign up for an account.
2. Login to your account.
3. Click the Design a Gift box at the top of the page to design and fund your gift.
4. Once your gift is claimed and implemented, the educator who received your donation will post pictures to your public philanthropist page.

Still need some ideas?

Think about what made you excited about school: playing on the championship soccer team, performing as the lead in the school play, loving to read once you discovered the science fiction section?

Here are examples of gifts created and recently funded by donors:

* $225 for Harry Potter books.

* $50 to purchase chess sets.

* $100 for a build-a-robot set.

* $500 to sponsor a baseball team.

Photo (CC) by Flickr user ninahale.

Jessica Rauch is president of The Generation Project, a web-based charity that expands opportunities for low-income K-12 students by providing donors unprecedented control over their philanthropic giving. Rauch started her career as a Teach for America teacher in the Bronx, where she taught fourth grade.

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