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15 celebs who just stepped up big time for classrooms in need.

Hollywood heavyweights and others helped pour $14 million into school projects across the U.S.

15 celebs who just stepped up big time for classrooms in need.

Can we agree — if any one profession deserves a shout-out, it's teaching?

So many teachers go above and beyond to ensure future generations are the best and brightest. And too often, it's a thankless (and underpaid) job they get done with little resources at their disposal.

But now, the Internet has showed teachers it cares. And it used some star power to get the point across.


Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.

Celebrities and everyday Internet people teamed up to pour as many dollars as possible into funding school projects across the U.S.

On March 10, 2016, Donors Choose — an online platform teachers can use to raise funds for important initiatives in their classrooms — kicked off #BestSchoolDay.

You could definitely say it was a success.


The fundraising site — which helps teachers request funding for things they want to do but that their school budgets can't afford, like diversify the options for children's books available to their students or get calculators for their high schoolers — got a major boost from 58 different celebrities, athletes, philanthropists, among others who helped make the day be actually the best school day ever.

They collectively donated an astonishing $14 million to various Donors Choose projects — enough to complete over half of all the projects on the platform, as Fast Company reported. Many of them decided to fund all the projects in a given city, county, or state especially close to their hearts.

"Suffice to say we’ve not done anything even fractionally at this scale ever before," Donors Choose CEO and founder Charles Best explained to the outlet. "It’s definitely the biggest day in our organization’s history, other than the day we went national about eight years ago."

So who were some of these well-known celebs throwing their support behind the teachers who could use it?

Here are just 13 of the 58 influencers who lent a helping hand...

1. Stephen Colbert

Colbert — a Donors Choose board member who helped get the effort off its feet — is the celebrity brainpower behind the initiative. He called #BestSchoolDay "probably the best thing I've ever been involved in" and shocked everyone last year by "flash funding" all the projects in his home state of South Carolina.

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

"The reason they're doing it and the reason I did it is that I know the real heroes are the teachers who are too often themselves spending their own money for these projects," Colbert told CBS News. "And every dollar you give goes exactly to that project and you hear back from those kids."

And beyond Colbert, plenty of other familiar faces stepped up big time.

2. Gwyneth Paltrow

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

What she's funding: all projects in her hometown of Santa Monica, California.

3. Carmelo Anthony

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Nickelodeon.

What he's funding: all projects in his hometown, West Baltimore, Maryland.

4. Anna Kendrick

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.

What she's funding (alongside an anonymous donor): All projects in her home state of Maine.

5 & 6. Bill and Melinda Gates

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

What they're funding: All student-led initiatives from high-need schools.

7. Ashton Kutcher

Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images.

What he's funding: All projects in his home state of Iowa. Watch Kutcher explain what was his #BestSchoolDay ever here.

8. Serena Williams

Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Burberry.

What she's funding: All projects in her hometown of Compton, California. Williams opened up about what day was her #BestSchoolDay, which you can watch here.

9. Russell Simmons

Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images.

What he's funding: All projects in his hometown of Hollis, Queens, N.Y. Watch Simmons open up about his #BestSchoolDay here.

10. Samuel L. Jackson

Photo by Stuart Wilson/Getty Images for FitFlop Shooting Stars Benefit.

What he's funding: all projects in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Jackson gave viewers the scoop on his #BestSchoolDay ever, which you can watch here.

11 & 12. Seth Rogen & Lauren Miller Rogen

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images.

What they're funding: all projects in Sonoma County, California, where the couple live. They both had a #BestDayEver in school — watch them tell you all about it here.

13. Sheryl Sandberg

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

What she's funding: all projects across several counties in California. Sandberg took some time out of her busy schedule to describe her #BestSchoolDay ever — watch it here.

14. Yvette Nicole Brown

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

What she's funding (alongside an anonymous donor): all projects in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Brown dished on what her #BestSchoolDay ever was — check it out here.

15. Dwight Howard

Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images.

What he's funding: all pre-K through 2nd grade literacy initiatives in Houston, Texas, where he plays for the Houston Rockets. Howard spilled the beans on his #BestSchoolDay here.

You can check out (and will probably recognize) the other names on the list of supporters.

#BestSchoolDay wasn't exclusive to celebs either. Plenty of people (with less recognizable ways) chipped in, in huge ways, too, like Brad Feld — he's part of VC firm Foundry Group, and he backed all projects across Alaska, Detroit, and several cities in Colorado. (Bravo, Brad!)

You don't have to have a ton of money to help educators in need though.

Anyone can make a difference to teachers and students in need.

There are plenty of worthy projects on Donors Choose. Check it out for yourself.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less