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He is black. He is privileged. And all of that concerns his parents.

At first I didn't understand why two parents wanted to film their son's journey through prep school. But once they started telling their story, I totally got it.

He is black. He is privileged. And all of that concerns his parents.
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The Atlantic Philanthropies

Meet Joe Brewster.

Meet Michèle Stephenson.


Michèle and Joe are married with two kids. Their oldest son is named Idris. At the age of 4, Idris was accepted into The Dalton School, a super-elite and rigorous college prep school, where he was one of few black students from a middle-class family.

"I want my son to have the best education possible. Although he's not technically from an upper class, Idris is very privileged and bright." — Joe Brewster

Both Joe and Michèle grew up poor. Joe became a doctor and Michèle a lawyer. So their son has been afforded opportunities they never had. That's great, but it's also really scary to them.

"I just don't want Idris to be hurt. I don't want for his self esteem to suffer. ... In any environment that you're in, whether it's Dalton or elsewhere, race always plays a part in how the students are perceived, in how we perceive as parents our role in that environment. How we interpret what the school says, how the school reacts to the kids and reacts to us as parents. It's always there as an undercurrent." — Michele Stephenson

So, they decided to film their son Idris' experience for 13 years — from the time he started kindergarten at 5 to his graduation at the age of 18.

Each year Idris talks about his feelings as they relate to race and class on tape. It's interesting to check out his observations year after year.

Age 5

Age 9

Age 10

Age 11

Age 17

Then the 17-year-old added:

"The students ... a lot of them, live in this bubble, and during the course of my life, it's created a divide between my school life and in my race. I've been around a lot of black people outside of school, and they have a totally different way of living, totally different way of speaking and going about their daily lives. I really do feel a sense of two-ness. "

While Idris' parents were super-concerned about how he would confront race and class issues at school, all in all, they still wouldn't trade the experience.

Whoa. This kind of reminds me of my experience growing up. Two-ness — I can so relate. I wonder how many other kids in this situation have felt like this? Click below to preview the rest of this fascinating documentary.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez
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Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color.

"I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings," she says. "More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too."

Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. "That moment was life-changing for me," she recalls. "It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year."

It's also guided her teaching. Ms. Lopez says she always selects authors and characters that represent her students and celebrate other ethnicities so students can relate to what they read while also learning about other cultures.

"I want them to see themselves in the books they read, respect those that may not look like them and realize they may have lots in common with [other cultures] they read about," she says.

She also wants her students to have a different experience in school than she did.

When Ms. Lopez was in first grade, she "was speaking in Spanish to a new student, showing her where the restroom was when a staff member overheard our conversation and directed me to not speak in Spanish," she recalls. "In 'this school,' we only speak English," she remembers them saying. "From that day forward, I was made to feel less-than and embarrassed to speak the language of my family, my ancestors; the language I learned to speak first."

Part of her job, she says, is to find new ways to promote acceptance and inclusion in her classroom.

"The worldwide movement around social justice following the death of George Floyd amplified my duty as a teacher to learn how to discuss racial equity in a way that made sense to my little learners," she says. "It ignited me to help them see themselves in a positive light, to make our classroom family feel more inclusive, and make our classroom a safe place to have authentic conversations."

One way she did that was by raising money through DonorsChoose to purchase books and other materials for her classroom that feature diverse perspectives.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

The Allstate Foundation recently partnered with DonorsChoose to create a Racial Justice and Representation category to encourage teachers like Ms. Lopez to create projects that address racial equity in the classroom. To launch the category, The Allstate Foundation matched all donations to these projects for a total of $1.5 million. Together, they hope to drive awareness and funding to projects that bring diversity, inclusion, and identity-affirming learning materials into classrooms across the country. You can see current projects seeking funding here.

When Ms. Lopez wanted to incorporate inclusive coloring books into her lesson plans, The Allstate Foundation fully funded her project so she was able to purchase them.

"I'm a lifelong learner, striving to be my best version of myself and always working to inspire my little learners to do the same," she says. Each week, Ms. Lopez and the students would focus on a page in the book and discuss its message. And she plans to do the same again this school year.

"DonorsChoose has been a gamechanger for my students. Without the support of all the donors that come together on this platform, we wouldn't have a sliver of what I've been able to provide for my students, especially during the pandemic," she says.

"My passion is to continue striving to be excellent, and to continue to find ways to use literature as an anchor, depicting images that reflect my students," she says.

To help teachers like Ms. Lopez drive this important mission forward, donate on DonorsChoose.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez