Salesforce makes $100K 'flash-funding' gift to IPS teachers

May 14, 2015

Software giant Salesforce.com has donated $100,000 directly to teachers at Indianapolis Public Schools through a unique civic crowdfunding method.

It's believed to be the single-biggest gift of its kind for the school system.

The "flash-funding" donation will benefit IPS teachers who sought financial help for classroom projects on a website called DonorsChoose.org, a crowdfunding website focused on public schools.

Salesforce's donation, which took place Thursday morning, completed funding for 152 open projects, helping more than 11,000 students in 150 classrooms at 30 schools. The funds will let teachers buy composition books, bikes for special-needs children and iPads, among other items.

"This is really part of who we are," said Scott McCorkle, CEO of Indianapolis-based Salesforce Marketing Cloud, adding that the company believes in donating 1 percent of its equity, products and time to charitable efforts.

Part of Salesforce's contribution completed funding for a project at Stephen Foster IPS 67, a high-poverty elementary school where at least 65 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

The $224 project is for two electric pencil sharpeners and 240 pencils. On the site, the teacher behind the project, Nicole Scott, wrote: "This project will improve my classrooms focus and flow. We are always pausing because someone does not have a pencil or the sharpener will not work. I believe we will have more academic focus if we have working tools."

IPS teachers have been using DonorsChoose.org since at least 2007. The Center for Inquiry III at School 27, for instance, has drawn more than $1 million in the past three years through the site.

Teachers pick materials through the website from vendors including Amazon.com. When projects are fully funded, the platform purchases the items and ships them directly to the schools.

"You know the funding is reaching a need that has actually been defined in the classroom," Kirk Smiley, a senior group director at DonorsChoose.org, said.


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