Teachers and kids around the country are celebrating this $29 million act of generosity.

DonorsChoose.org is where teachers go to crowdfund classroom supplies and where awesomely empathetic people go to support them.

It's an absolutely fantastic charity and has helped tens of millions of students since its founding in 2000. Current projects on the site include a teacher raising money to buy classroom laptops for students in Worcester, Massachusetts, a push to buy bean bag chairs for a class in Section, Alabama, and more than 22,000 other campaigns.

For one brief moment in late March, there was nothing on the website. Every single campaign was paid for. What seemed like a glitch turned out to be something much better.


Ripple, a cryptocurrency payments company, donated $29 million, fulfilling every active campaign on the site.

"Late Show" host Stephen Colbert announced the donation on air. A big supporter of DonorsChoose, in 2015, Colbert paid off every campaign in his home state of South Carolina, an $800,000 donation. Ripple's $29-million act of generosity took care of more than 35,647 funding requests.

DonorsChoose founder Charles Best posted a video with Ripple senior vice president of marketing Monica Long, giving some more info on how the donation went down.

#BestSchoolDay 2018: Every Project Funded!

We can’t believe that just happened. With the largest single donation in our history, Ripple just funded EVERY SINGLE CLASSROOM PROJECT on DonorsChoose.org.THANK YOU to Ripple for making it the #BestSchoolDay for 28,000 teachers and over a million students!

Posted by DonorsChoose.org on Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Don't take it from them though. Why not hear directly from some of the teachers whose projects were funded?

Using the hashtag #BestSchoolDay, teachers across the country posted heartwarming videos and notes on social media. Some were on the verge of tears as they posted their videos, and others showed photos of the students who would be helped. There was just a lot of gratitude to go around.

Now imagine what it'd be like if every day was a #BestSchoolDay? Believe it or not, we can make that happen, and here's how.

Again, DonorsChoose is a wonderful organization that does important work in the world — but how messed up is it that teachers are in a position where they need to count on the kindness of strangers to be able to give their students the best education possible? Teachers are real-life heroes, and their time would almost certainly be better spent developing lesson plans and building up new generations instead of trying to find creative ways to supplement their classrooms' shoestring budgets.

In several states across the country, teachers are rising up to demand better wages and working conditions — and it's in everyone's best interest to ensure they get it. At the start of April, teachers in Kentucky marched on the state capitol building to call on Gov. Matt Bevin to veto an overhaul of their pension plan. Oklahoma and West Virginia teachers recently walked off the job for better pay and funding.

Kentucky public school teachers outside the state capitol on April 2, 2018, calling on Gov. Matt Bevin to veto a bill that would gut their pension plan. Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

We have the power to fix this by electing politicians, especially at the state and local levels, who pledge to fund schools and take care of our teachers.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, roughly 90 cents out of every dollar spent on education comes from sources other than the federal government. That means that if you want to change things like teacher pay or school funding, the best place to get started is at the state and local level. We owe it to our teachers and their students to create the best learning environment possible, so let's elect officials willing to give them what they need.

People rallying outside the Oklahoma state capitol for increases in pay and school funding. Photo by J. Pat Carter/Getty Images.

Until then, we can all be thankful that groups like DonorsChoose exist to help bridge the funding gap.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

via USO

Army Capt. Justin Meredith used the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program to read to his son and family while deployed in the Middle East.

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One of the biggest challenges deployed service members face is the feeling of being separated from their families, especially when they have children. It's also very stressful for children to be away from parents who are deployed for long periods of time.

For the past four years, the USO has brought deployed service members and their families closer through a wonderful program that allows them to read together. The Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program gives deployed service members the ability to choose a book, read it on camera, then send both the recording and book to their child.

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