Saturday April 5, 2008 Senator Torlakson Joins Comcast and DONORSCHOOSE.ORG
To Announce $25,000 Challenge Grant For CONTRA COSTA SCHOOLS

Senator Torlakson joins Comcast And Donorschoose.org To Announce $25,000 Challenge Grant for Contra Costa Schools

CONCORD—Senator Tom Torlakson joined Comcast and DonorsChoose.org at Concord’s Cambridge Elementary School on Friday, April 4, to announce a $25,000 challenge grant to support Contra Costa County teachers and students.From now until April 15, Comcast and DonorsChoose.org will match dollar-for-dollar every donation to schools in Contra Costa County. This means that if individuals and businesses donate $25,000 to Contra Costa schools, the matching program will fully fund all of the $50,000 in projects teachers have posted on the DonorsChoose.org web site. People interested in making donations to classrooms can find a direct link to the challenge web site by visiting www.tomtorlakson.com/challenge or www.donorschoose.org/donors/viewChallenge.html?id=18456. Donors must use one of these links to ensure their donations count as part of the challenge.

“DonorsChoose.org is a great organization that connects teachers and students to donors who want to give to schools,â€? said Torlakson (D-Antioch). “Donors can directly learn about the real impact their money is making in the classroom. I want to thank Comcast and DonorsChoose.org for making this challenge grant possible to fund all of these great projects in Contra Costa schools.â€?Comcast Government Affairs Director Philip Arndt and DonorsChoose.org Deputy Director Kris Murray joined Torlakson at the press conference. The event also featured two Cambridge Elementary School teachers, Lori Chiok and Kristen Forsyth, who have posted grant requests on DonorsChoose.org. Regular DonorsChoose.org donor Bill Schilz of Martinez also attended to discuss the program.

“Comcast is proud to partner with Senator Tom Torlakson to help promote and support DonorsChoose.org,â€? said Arndt. “The non-profit website program is an excellent way for companies like Comcast and individuals to help provide valuable resources to local teachers in their classrooms.”

“DonorsChoose.org has been great because my students can tell me what they need, and I can put it on the web site and in 15 minutes have a proposal done,â€? said Chiok, a first-year teacher at Cambridge Elementary School. “Then we can see the progress as people are donating to the project.â€?

During the press conference, Schilz announced that Chiok’s project was now completely funded. Schilz then presented Chiok and her class with the art supplies purchased with the donations made through DonorsChoose.org.

“I got started with DonorsChoose.org two years ago because I felt our students were being left behind and our teachers were not getting the resources they needed to help these kids,â€? said Schilz. “One of the things I have started to do to encourage others is to tell people that what I want for my birthday is a DonorsChoose.org gift certificate.â€? Schilz also read a thank you note he received from a teacher after funding another project.

“I learned about DonorsChoose.org from one of my colleagues,â€? said Forsyth, a first-year teacher. “It is really refreshing to feel genuine support of our public schools.â€? Forsyth’s class demonstrated the results of her first funding request: art supplies used, in part, to make medals as a fun and encouraging motivational tool for their STAR testing earlier this year.

Forsyth recently posted a new grant request for nonfiction books, on topics ranging from earthquakes to civil rights. During the press conference, Senator Torlakson announced he was going to make a donation to fund the book request to help kickoff the DonorsChoose.org Contra Costa Challenge.

“I hope more teachers around California will use this great tool to bring additional resources into their classrooms,â€? added Torlakson. “I hope we can spread the bright eyes and enthusiasm we saw from the students here at Cambridge today all across Contra Costa County.â€?

DonorsChoose.org is a nonprofit organization seeking to connect classrooms and teachers in need with individuals who want to help. Using the DonorsChoose.org web site, any individual or business can help teachers receive the educational resources they need for their students. Interested people can search teacher-posted proposals by areas of interest, learn about classroom needs, and choose to fund the project he or she finds most compelling.

Donors receive a feedback package of photographs, student thank-you notes, a teacher impact letter, and an expenditure report showing their gift was spent as directed. Donorschoose.org was pioneered by social studies teacher Charles Best and his colleagues at a Bronx public high school in the spring of 2000. As of April 1, 2008, donorschoose.org has funded $20,987,887 worth of projects benefiting 1,153,446 students from donors in 50 states—including more than $2 million in grants to schools in the Bay Area.

To learn more about this partnership watch this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2AXgdZBihM