Long Island schoolteachers were abuzz after learning all 145 classroom projects posted on DonorsChoose.org had been fully funded in one fell swoop.
Teachers were calling, texting, sharing on Twitter and Facebook that “every single project on Long Island” — including 30 at her school — had been funded, said Sabrina Pitkewicz, sixth-grade math and science teacher at Bay Shore Middle School. “We’re still on a buzz,” she said Friday.
Their benefactor is Southampton native Tim Ferriss, author, angel investor and tango aficionado, who announced Thursday that he was picking up the tab for the Island’s 145 classroom projects posted on the site.
This is bigger than Long Island, though, as he’s one of more than 50 celebrities, athletes, business rock stars and philanthropists engaging in this “flash funding” initiative, which means taking on the entire request from a state, city or region.
Getting the ball rolling last May was “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert, a DonorsChoose.org board member, who funded all the projects for his home state of South Carolina. Following suit are the likes of Serena Williams, Elon Musk, Samuel L. Jackson, Carmelo Anthony, Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey.
In all, more than $14 million has been committed for close to 12,000 projects nationwide, ranging from books to art supplies and field trips to science equipment, the site said in a news release.
“We all remember special days at school, whether it was going on a field trip, doing a science experiment, or performing in a school play,” said Charles Best, founder and chief executive of DonorsChoose.org. “Teachers have a hard time providing these experiences when they have to go into their own pockets to buy school supplies,” he said.
Ferriss, who grew up in East Hampton, spoke in a YouTube video of how a teacher changed his life on the first day of first grade, telling the reluctant young student why he should relent and learn the alphabet.
“Tim, do you know if you learn the alphabet you can read any book that you want,” he recalls her telling his younger self. He went on to become the author of the best-seller “The 4-Hour Work Week.”
“I feel I have a debt of gratitude to the incredible teachers and mentors I had on Long Island, going all the way back to my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Vinski, at Springs Elementary School in East Hampton,” Ferriss said. He also has funded all the site’s projects in New Hampshire and Sacramento, California.
Pitkewicz and her colleague, seventh-grade English teacher Gerilyn Lessing, were feeling the love Friday.
It’s “what it must feel like to win the lotto,” Pitkewicz said. It goes beyond the money, though. It’s also about knowing that people support educators and the work they do, she said.
Her requests included chemistry supplies and a laminator to make task cards and pieces for math games.
Lessing, who has had a number of other projects funded through DonorsChoose.org, asked for 15 sets of Sony headphones, so students could listen to audio books and articles.
Besides being on the receiving end, students also send thank you notes and photos of the items in use, she said, so benefactors can “really see how the money is being used.”
With Rachel Uda