During this year's SXSWi, Emma asked participants to help decide which 40 classrooms to help through DonorsChoose.org, an organization that helps fund classroom projects that fall outside public school budgets.
One such request came from Ms. F., who teaches math, science and reading to 44 sixth-graders in Wisconsin. In her classroom, there are two pencil sharpeners, one of which doesn't work well, the other of which just doesn't work. It takes two students to sharpen a pencil here, as one holds the broken sharpener steady while the other turns the crank.
Ms. F. appealed to DonorsChoose.org, asking for a pencil sharpener. Her students, she wrote, have great potential despite many obstacles: they've run out of glue for science fair boards, they don't have enough graph paper to practice graphs in math and have no poster paper for group presentations. Plus, they share a limited number of pencils.
"The truth is, I teach in a rough neighborhood," wrote Ms. F. "My students put up with more disappointment than they should have to and I would love to provide everything for them but, unfortunately, that is not possible. What we're asking for is a working pencil sharpener and a few other basic supplies that will make our day run just a little bit more smoothly."
Emma and others helped fulfilled her $276 request. Here's what she wrote in response:
"Thank you SO much for funding my project! These resources are going to greatly enhance the learning in my classroom. Not having to send students to other rooms to sharpen their pencils or try, desperately, to manipulate our broken pencil sharpener is going to be wonderful. You don't realize how amazing a working pencil sharpener is until you don't have one.
"People like you who are so willing to help out students in need truly amaze me. There are so many people in these students' communities and lives who are not even willing to support them and here you are, strangers to them, and more than willing to put their needs in front of your own. I hope you know how much your generosity is appreciated."
Working with DonorsChoose.org is just one of the ways Emma gives back. Click here to learn more. See the full list of classrooms we helped fund here. And learn how you can sponsor your *own* classroom project here.