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.

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.

Most Shared

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture