June Lassetter worried that her two classroom projects wouldn't get funded.
The early intervention teacher at Jones County's Wells Elementary had sought donations through the nonprofit DonorsChoose.org for four Kindle Fire tablets, but only two contributions had come in.
Thursday morning, an email was waiting with good news: A San Francisco-based technology company had paid what was left of her $600 goal. Ripple donated $29 million to fund more than 35,000 projects — including about 60 in Middle Georgia — that totaled $47,000 and were listed on the website at the time, according to DonorsChoose.
Public school teachers can submit proposals to DonorsChoose for classroom supplies and materials they need, and once approved, community members can donate to those projects. When the fundraising goals are reached, the nonprofit purchases the goods and ships them to the schools.
Ripple's donation paid for 27 projects in Bibb County, 18 in Houston, five in Jones, three in Peach, and two in Monroe and Twiggs. Requested supplies ranged from art supplies and storage solutions to robotics materials and flexible seating options.
Lassetter generally works with a dozen students at a time, and now each child will be able to use his own Kindle Fire for programs to improve reading and math skills, she said. She received eight devices previously from private donors.
"This is just technology that gets into every student's hands. It's reaching more kids, which is so awesome," she said. "We're all excited waiting for our materials to show up."
Four sets of cello strings and 10 laptops are on their way to Howard Middle School in Bibb County. Orchestra teacher Rachael Smith, who submitted the two project proposals, said the computer request was "a long shot" that she didn't expect to be fulfilled. Orchestra students will use the laptops to create music projects and compositions and watch instructional videos.
The Academy for Classical Education in Bibb County will add more than 50 biography books to its shelves, following a request from media assistant Carol Tyner. Amanda Hunnell, who teaches fifth grade and gifted students at Russell Elementary in Houston County, will get six storage carts for her classroom. She said her students share a lot of materials, and the carts will help keep them organized and allow her to try flexible seating options.
"I'm really grateful that there are people out there that are willing to give so that our students can be really successful," she said. "I spend a lot of time and money in the classroom, and whenever anybody can donate money to help our class, I really appreciate that."
Ripple's $29 million donation to DonorsChoose made a huge difference, but it's important for people to remember that even small individual donations of $10 or $20 do a lot to help teachers, Smith said.
"Teaching is always easier with more resources," she said. "Every resource that I have gives my students another window and another opportunity to learn."