May 7, 2020 · 5 min read

Going the Distance: Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Supports Teachers with $1.2 Million in Funding for Distance Learning Projects on DonorsChoose

Funding Will Help Support Projects by Bay Area Teachers and Teachers Nationwide for Resources Needed to Aid Distance Learning Amid COVID-19

2020 | Photograph by: DonorsChoose

To help mark Teacher Appreciation Week, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) today announced a $1.2 million grant to DonorsChoose designed to support teachers as they navigate their new normal amid COVID-19. The grant will provide funding for DonorsChoose’s new, “distance learning” category. Within the new category, teachers nationwide are requesting resources to assist their students or to better facilitate and lead distance learning from home. 

As schools initiated the transition to distance learning this year, DonorsChoose surveyed over 4,000 teachers to identify and understand the implications for students. Teachers estimated that 68 percent of their students lack the resources they need to learn at home. Eligible distance learning projects include equipment for students and teachers like books, workbooks, notebooks, laptops, WiFi hotspots, and other supplies. Teachers can even use the project funding to provide basic needs for students, including shelf-stable groceries. 

“In the face of considerable challenges and uncertainty, teachers are going above and beyond to ensure their students’ learning stays on track and to support their overall wellbeing,” said Priscilla Chan, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. “We’re thankful everyday for the incredible contributions of educators, but now — more than ever, we’re humbled by their dedication and creativity.  We are proud to partner with DonorsChoose to salute and support their work.” 

In the Bay Area, CZI is supporting teachers in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties who teach at schools where 50 percent or more of students qualify for Free or Reduced-Price Lunch (FRPL). CZI is providing teachers in these communities with a donation of up to $300 for their distance learning projects, for a total of $750,000 to local Bay Area teachers. Donations will be applied to projects that cost up to $1,000 while funds last, and there is a limit of one project per teacher.  

Nationwide, CZI is also providing $500,000 to match donations to DonorsChoose distance learning projects that cost up to $1,000 posted by teachers from schools across the country — where 75 percent or more students qualify for FRPL.  

The public can support these projects today and CZI will match each donation dollar for dollar, while funds last.

“In an effort to help students and teachers who are conducting school from home, DonorsChoose launched Distance Learning Projects. These projects let teachers request a shipment to an address of their choosing  — whether that’s to the teacher’s home or directly to a student,” said Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose. “We’re profoundly grateful for this grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which will support thousands of teachers and students as they continue to face the challenges posed by COVID-19.”

In recognition of Teacher Appreciation Week, CZI is celebrating teachers’ truly exceptional efforts to transition quickly and creatively to full-time remote learning amid COVID-19 by also highlighting their stories in a special video and featuring them in a blog. In total, CZI has committed more than $8.4 million in responsive giving since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to support teachers and students impacted by school closures as they transition to distance learning. These grants include $5 million in COVID-19 response grants to support educators and families, $1.3 million aimed at providing resources for states and school districts impacted by school closures, and $1 million to support the State of California’s efforts to expand access to distance learning.

CZI’s education work is focused on ensuring that every student — not just a lucky few — can get an education that’s tailored to their individual needs and supports every aspect of their development. Part of that work is focused on supporting research, programs and organizations that work to advance the understanding and science of how students learn and develop, and support the pivotal role of teachers in supporting a student’s academic, mental, physical, emotional and cognitive development. CZI has partnered with Deans for Impact, the Center for Transformative Teaching & Learning, Jefferson Education Exchange and others in this work. 

For more information about how CZI and our grant partners are responding to COVID-19, visit


About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a new kind of philanthropy that’s leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease, to improving education, to reforming the criminal justice system. Across three core Initiative focus areas of Science, Education, and Justice & Opportunity, we’re pairing engineering with grant-making, impact investing, and policy and advocacy work to help build an inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit

About DonorsChoose

DonorsChoose is the leading way to give to public schools. Since 2000, more than 4 million people and partners have contributed $950 million to support 1.6 million teacher requests for classroom resources and experiences. As the most trusted crowdfunding platform for teachers, donors, and district administrators alike, DonorsChoose vets each request, ships the funded resources directly to the classroom, and provides thank yous and reporting to donors and school leaders. Charity Navigator and GuideStar have awarded DonorsChoose, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, their highest ratings for transparency and accountability. For more information, visit

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