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Top DonorsChoose.org Supporters Gather for Partner Summit

This month we invited our most generous corporate supporters to join us in New York City for our first-ever Partner Summit.
The Summit kicked off with a dinner and cocktail reception at PS 11 in Chelsea, an elementary school with 48 projects successfully funded through DonorsChoose.org. Our top donors, teachers, corporate partners, staff members, and board and national advisory council members gathered to celebrate teachers and share their experiences with DonorsChoose.org. Guests included Alexis Ohanian (co-founder of Reddit), Anil Dash (one of the inventors of blogging), Meredith Bennett (executive producer of The Colbert Report), Aimee Bell (Deputy Editor of Vanity Fair), and Peter Bloom (Chairman of the DonorsChoose.org Board of Directors).
The following day, our corporate partners joined us at the Ford Foundation for a daylong retreat including panels, guest speakers, and remarks from our founder and CEO Charles Best.
Here are a few of our favorite moments from Partner Summit 2013:
We added a few lights and fresh flowers to the cafeteria at PS 11 William T. Harris Elementary School, but our guests couldn’t stop admiring the brightly colored tablecloths, hand-painted by the students in the PS11 AfterSchool program.

The evening’s cocktail reception and dinner allowed our corporate partners and teachers to meet and share their experiences with DonorsChoose.org. Below, our partners and supporters raise a glass in honor of teachers.

Five of NYC’s top food trucks lined the street outside PS11. Our guests were treated to a feast of local favorites ranging from award-winning tacos, to Filipino-inspired spring rolls, to what NY Magazine and The Village Voice have declared to be the best falafel in New York City.

Susan Whitlock, a long-time supporter of DonorsChoose.org, joined fellow supporter Irma Lunderman and teachers James Walter Doyle and Emily Chandler on a panel to share their personal experiences using our site. When asked about a favorite project she’s funded, Susan shared the story of a teacher who requested tactile materials for her class of blind students to create Valentine’s cards they could touch and feel. Below, Susan holds a few of the special Valentines sent to her by these students.

DonorsChoose.org Chief Technology Officer Oliver Hurst-Hiller moderated a discussion with Max Shron, data consultant and former data scientist for OkCupid, and Jay Garlapati, data scientist for DonorsChoose.org. Together, they discussed how data analysis and visualization benefits our corporate partners and enhances partnerships with DonorsChoose.org.

Guest speaker Professor Michael Norton of Harvard Business School presented his findings with regards to the power of corporate philanthropy to make customers and employees happier. His remarks shifted perspective from “money can’t buy happiness” to “if you think money can’t buy happiness, you’re not spending it right”, to his ultimate challenge, “if you think money can’t buy happiness, try giving some away”.

Keynote speaker Arianna Huffington topped off the Summit with remarks on the idea of “doing well by doing good”. She emphasized philanthropy as a key component of health and wellness and encouraged our partners to allow employees to take an active role in their company’s partnership with DonorsChoose.org.

A full gallery of photos from Partner Summit is available on photographer John Bruno’s website.

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