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Our Favorite Moments from the 2016 Partner Summit

Every year, we bring our most generous supporters together for Partner Summit: a chance for foundation, marketing, and philanthropy professionals at America’s leading companies and foundations to network, connect to our mission, and learn from speakers such as Stephen Colbert, Sheryl Sandberg, Ashton Kutcher, and many more.
At our fourth annual summit a couple weeks ago, more than 40 partners—along with teachers, donors, and friends—spent two inspirational days in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here are our favorite moments, and why one partner called the summit “the most rewarding meeting I’ve attended this year.”

Our Incredible Speakers
Sheryl Sandberg, Ashton Kutcher, and best-selling author Gretchen Rubin enlightened us on topics ranging from habits and happiness, to the latest tools to protect children on the internet, to the battle for workplace equality. Their sessions helped us all walk away a little smarter and incredibly inspired.

Our Visit to a Local Classroom
Before Partner Summit officially began, a dozen of our partners visited Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy to see Ms. Francis’ class in action. During our visit with Ms. Francis and her students, we all saw first-hand the impact of the 74 projects Ms. Francis has had funded to date. One of our partners also discovered he was no match for his new first grade friend when it comes to Connect Four.

Our Celebration of Teachers Reception
We always begin Partner Summit with a reminder of why we’re here: the teachers and students we serve. At Wednesday night’s Celebration of Teachers, our partners and supporters got to mingle with 20 of our most inspiring DonorsChoose.org teachers from the San Francisco Bay Area. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone recounted why he and his wife Livia joined the #BestSchoolDay campaign, and Charles shared some of the incredible projects local teachers have created.

Our Student/Teacher Panel with Yvette Nicole Brown
Actress and DonorsChoose.org hero Yvette Nicole Brown led an engaging conversation with two teachers and four students from Ronald McNair Academy in East Palo Alto. Ms. Azevedo and Mr. Jones wowed us with their creativity and dedication to teaching, and their students—Adrian, Juvenal, Mariela, and Mercedes—stole our hearts sharing their favorite classroom materials, future career plans, and heartfelt thank-yous with their teachers. After the session, our friends at Chevron fully funded Mercedes’ student-led project for band room resources on the spot!

Our Partner Point-of-View Sessions
We know our partners love to learn from the other partners in the room. For the first time, we asked three partners—Tracey Del Moral from OshKosh B’gosh, Julie Goldstone from Chevron, and Andrew Dunckelman from Google—to lead conversations about their partnerships and key lessons on philanthropic and cause marketing topics. The Q&A and table discussions that followed each presentation were thought-provoking, and many left the day with ideas for future campaigns and collaborations with other partners.

Facebook & Twitter
We couldn’t have been more grateful for our wonderful Partner Summit hosts, Twitter and Facebook. Our Celebration of Teachers reception on Wednesday night was hosted at Twitter headquarters in the beautiful Aviary Room overlooking Market Street. On Thursday, we spent the day in the heart of Facebook’s campus, where we managed to sneak in an outdoor lunch break and a few snacks from their Sweet Shop. What better venues to talk tech, crowdfunding, and doing well by doing good?

Interested in more from Partner Summit? Check out what our partner Eileen Buckley from PwC had to say about her experience, and don’t miss the #DCPartnerSummit hashtag on Twitter for more highlights and photos from the event. We can’t wait for next year!

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