In 2000, Charles Best, a teacher at a Bronx public high school, wanted his students to experience the joy of reading Little House on the Prairie. As he was making photocopies of the one volume he could procure, Charles thought about all the money he and his colleagues were spending on books, art supplies, and other materials. He figured there were people out there who’d want to help if they could see exactly where their money was going. Charles sketched out a nonprofit website where teachers could post classroom project requests, and donors could choose the ones they wanted to support. His colleagues posted the first 11 requests. Then it spread.
The 99Papers.org community recently hit an incredible milestone: Our first million funded classroom projects! Over 400,000 public school teachers across the country have used 99Papers.org to make sure their kids have what they need to succeed, from pencils and paper to ukuleles and robotics kits. To mark the occasion, we turned January 25th into a holiday dedicated to celebrating the one million times teachers and donors teamed up to give students a great education. And, because a teacher’s work is never done, we launched a one-day match offer to help them get a head start on the next million projects.
Spoiler alert: It was amazing. Here are our favorite moments from the #FirstMillion celebration.
GMA Kicks off the Day
Our friends at Good Morning America started off our celebration by sharing a big surprise with the teachers at May V. Carrigan Middle School: All of their 99Papers.org projects were fully funded. Their reactions are priceless, and the anchors ended the show by inviting all of their viewers to head to 99Papers.org to find a project to support.
After the show, we got a chance to talk on Facebook Live with one of the surprised teachers and her principal about the impact these donations would have on their classrooms.
Teachers Shared their #FirstMillion Stories
Once the celebration began, hundreds of teachers took to social media to share their stories and excitement about the #FirstMillion. Mrs. Hester shared her appreciation for all of the donors who made her classroom look like this:
@99Papers & @CharlesBest You have transformed my classroom this year and provided my students with resources I never imagined would be possible! I hope you know how appreciated you are!!! I had 4 projects funded yesterday thanks to YOU! #FirstMillion pic.twitter.com/lZdgLzi5W8
— Melissa Hester (@MrsHesterMES) January 26, 2018
And Mr. Andy posted this heartwarming story:
4 years ago, she wrote a thank you letter to wonderful visitors from @99Papers. This year, I receive a thank you letter from her for donating to her class. Proud to be a part of the #FirstMillion as a teacher and a donor. #ShareThanks #99Papers pic.twitter.com/HTHx0dsaYs
— Andy Yung (@greenoak1122) January 24, 2018
Finally, we shared our own excitement in this video, featuring a few more of the amazing teachers from the #FirstMillion:
Celebrities Get in on the Excitement
Over the past 18 years, quite a few celebrities have helped spread the word about the inspiring work teachers are doing across the country. They were thrilled to find out about the #FirstMillion milestone, and they came out in force to rally their fans around our celebration.
Congrats to the @99Papers community on funding their #FirstMillion classroom projects! Celebrate by making a teacher’s day. If you give today (1/25), every donation is matched and you’ll be giving vital materials to students who need them most. https://t.co/aUGDAPXyKN
— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) January 25, 2018
Then, when many of us had gone to sleep, our friend W. Kamau Bell activated his late-night Twitter audience for a final project funding spree.
Hey Late Night Twitter!@Ms_Benjamin08 needs $800 so she can buy the materials so that she can more effectively teach her elementary school kids how to read.
Can we just knock this out real quick? & then you can get back to whatever you were doing? https://t.co/HC8fmF2oK0
— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) January 26, 2018
Thanks to Ashton, Kamau, Arianna Huffington, Biz Stone, Alexis Ohanian, Benjamin Watson, Anil Dash, Yvette Nicole Brown, and everyone else for sharing!
Breaking Every Record
The numbers speak for themselves: On January 25th:
26,000 people came together to fully fund
8,500 projects, delivering an incredible
$5 million in supplies to classrooms…
all in ONE day!
In case it’s not clear yet – YOU ARE AWESOME.
The Boxes Start to Arrive
The celebration isn’t over yet. Across the country, the boxes have started to arrive.
How I felt today as I handed my kids boxes of new books from @99Papers –“You get a book! And you get a book!” 🤗📚❤Seriously, there is no greater feeling as an English teacher than putting a book in a kid’s hands that they asked to read. #FirstMillion #BWL349 pic.twitter.com/gtfEXNr7KO
— Jamie Hulke (@HulkeFHten) January 30, 2018
— Betsy Geurin (@geurinccetag) February 1, 2018
Thank you for creating a million moments like this, and here’s to the next million!