On Thursday, comedian Stephen Colbert donated over $800,000 to the teachers of South Carolina, funding every teacher-driver DonorsChoose project in the state in full.
By selling the set from his iconic Comedy Central juggernaut The Colbert Report, and with the help of Morgridge Family Foundation and education technology company ScanSource, he funded almost 1,000 projects at 375 schools in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week.
So what is the money going toward?
Since the recession, South Carolina schools have spent about 10 percent less per student, leaving high-poverty areas-without school supplies, books, and more.
Here are some of the projects that Colbert has helped to fund.
1. Pens and pencils. Higher poverty schools were looking for the bare essentials. Mrs. Long from Buffalo, South Carolina, focused her project around providing her second-grade students with greater access to pens, pencils, notebooks, and pencil sharpeners.
2. Increased access to arts programs. Where would Stephen Colbert be without an arts program? Drama programs in South Carolina requested materials like an iPad mini to provide students with access to a video-capable device, GoPro cameras, violins and music stands.
3. A focus on physical education. While other schools are focused on the newest fancy uniforms, South Carolina physical education programs were seeking equipment as simple as basketball hoops for kids to play with.
4. Chairs. Yes, it gets this simple. The most popular project seeking funding involved more comfortable, less noisy chairs in order to help young students focus and help improve posture. Standard chairs encourage students to slouch. Ms. Moschella of the Charleston County School for the Arts explained the motivation behind many teachers’ desire to introduce “balance ball chairs” into the classroom.
In an educational climate where teachers must often foot the bill for basic supplies, Colbert’s contributions are going to make a hugely positive difference in the state that helped the comedian get where he is today.
“One of my favorite rules of acting and improv is to make your scene partner look good, as it elevates the entire scene,” Mrs. Simmons of Hand Middle School posted on her DonorsChoose page after being funded. “When we take the time to invest in our kids and our community, it really does improve us all.”
Tip of the hat to you, Stephen.