February 11, 2010 10:58 ET

Leading Education Charity Offers a Presidents' Day Sale Worth Caring About and Pershing Square Foundation Aid High Need Public School Classrooms by Discounting Project Requests to $100

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - February 11, 2010) - Online education charity and the Pershing Square Foundation, the philanthropic arm of New York investment firm Pershing Square Capital Management, are teaming up to offer a Presidents' Day Sale worth caring about. Beginning today, every project request submitted by a public school teacher at that supports American History or Civics is being discounted to within $100 of completion. The two organizations are challenging everyday citizens to complete the funding for discounted projects, which primarily serve high poverty classrooms, before the offer expires on Monday, February 15.

Consider a U.S. History and Government class in a high poverty high school in New York City, where citywide budget cuts have put even the most essential supplies out of reach. The students, many of whom are English Language Learners, must soon study for mandatory state exams but the school simply cannot afford the necessary review books. Without them, many of the students will struggle not only with the content of the exams, but also with the language -- and failure precludes graduation.

The teacher has asked for 55 review books for his students, a modest request with an immense impact. It is the story of just one classroom in one city; thousands more like it across the country are being discounted to within $100 of completion through Monday.

The offer is the first in a new series called "Almost Home," made possible by a $1 million grant from the Pershing Square Foundation. Over the next four months, funding will be implemented as five site-wide "Almost Home" offers, each pegged to a specific theme day. For a limited time each month, "citizen philanthropists" will be challenged to activate matching funds from the Pershing Square Foundation by completing the funding on classroom projects meeting the theme day's criteria.

"This Presidents' Day, let's give the future leaders of America the classroom resources and learning experiences they need to realize their full potential," said founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management William Ackman. " is a fascinating model that positively impacts teachers and students across the country, and we're excited to introduce a new, experimental concept to the site. I am hopeful that the affordability of the classroom projects discounted throughout the spring will inspire a wave of involvement from members of the public."

For each of the five "Almost Home" campaigns, qualifying projects will display a specialized logo that is easily identifiable to donors looking to maximize their impact on students at a low personal cost.

As with any project request at, donors can contribute any dollar amount to classroom projects during each "Almost Home" campaign. Once a project is completely funded, will purchase the requested materials and send them directly to the classroom. All donors will receive photos of the project taking place, a thank-you letter from the teacher, and a cost report showing how each dollar was spent. Donors who fund the entire $100 cost will also receive hand-written thank-you letters from the students.

"Instead of hitting the mall this Presidents' Day Weekend, why not shop a sale that will make an impact in the lives of students and teachers?" said founder Charles Best. "We are so appreciative of the Pershing Square Foundation's investment in a new approach to philanthropy, and we're eagerly awaiting the results. This campaign will show people from all walks of life that they can make a huge difference with a small donation. So here's my Presidents' Day sales pitch: 'Act now! For a great price and even better cause, help a classroom in need at a school near you this Presidents' Day.'"

Classroom project requests that support Civics and American History come from public and charter school teachers in all 50 states and range from a New York City classroom in need of a computer to compete in a nationwide history contest, to a classroom in Los Angeles that needs reading supplies to teach eager first generation Americans about U.S. History.

Across the country, thousands of public school classrooms lack the materials that are essential for learning. As school budgets tighten, learning supplies and tools become increasingly outdated, broken and scarce. Through it all, school teachers nationwide spend $1 billion out-of-pocket each year, which rarely even covers each classroom's needs.

Founded in 2000, is a nonprofit website where public school teachers describe specific educational projects for their students, and donors can choose the projects they want to support. After completing a project, the donor hears back from the classroom they supported in the form of photographs and student thank-you letters.

To date, 118,000 public and charter school teachers have used the site to secure funding for $45 million in books, art supplies, technology, and other resources that their students need to learn. Through individuals from all walks of life have helped 2.8 million students from low-income families.

Pershing Square Foundation

Founded in December 2006 by William Ackman, The Pershing Square Foundation has made donations and pledges of approximately $40 million since its inception. Areas of support include, closing the achievement gap in education, global health care, human rights, poverty alleviation and the arts, with a focus on social enterprise as a vehicle of delivery.

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