April 21, 2010 10:30 ET

Leading Education Charity 'Seeds' Classroom Supplies With Philanthropic Sale in Honor of Earth Day and Pershing Square Foundation Aid High Need Public School Classrooms by Discounting Project Requests to $100; Thousands of Students and Teachers Impacted

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - April 21, 2010) - Online education charity and the Pershing Square Foundation, the philanthropic arm of New York investment firm Pershing Square Capital Management, are offering an Earth Day charity "sale" to support budding scientists and environmentalists across the country. Beginning today, every project request submitted by a public school teacher at that supports earth friendly learning will be discounted to within $100 of completion.

The two organizations are challenging everyday citizens to complete the funding for these environmental projects, which primarily serve high poverty classrooms, before the offer expires on Thursday, April 22.

"Over the next two days donors can bring environmental learning into hundreds of classrooms in honor of Earth Day," said Charles Best, founder and CEO of "Projects that normally cost as much as $800 can be completed by donors for only $100 each, thanks to the generous discount offer made possible by the Pershing Square Foundation." 

Among the discounted Earth Day projects is a request from a teacher at a high-need New York City middle school who recognized her students' joy of learning with hands-on activities. Since students in the inner city have limited access to environmental experiences, the teacher has requested a river tank aquarium, a plant set, and lesson plans. Hundreds more projects like this are being discounted to within $100 of completion through Thursday.

The Earth Day offer is the third in a new series called "Almost Home," made possible by a $1 million grant from the Pershing Square Foundation. Beginning in February and running thru May, funding is being implemented as four site-wide "Almost Home" offers, each pegged to a specific theme day. For a limited time each month, "citizen philanthropists" are challenged to activate matching funds from the Pershing Square Foundation by completing the funding on classroom projects meeting the theme day's criteria. For example, an eligible project request that costs $650 will receive $550 in matching funds from the Pershing Square Foundation as soon as donors contribute the first $100.

The first offer ran over Presidents' Day weekend and applied to all project requests focused on American History and Civics. Donors funded every eligible project, 675 projects in 24 hours. The second offer inspired donors to "Spring to Action," applying to all requests that supported health, sports, music and the arts in honor of spring. Nearly 800 donors responded enthusiastically, fully funding 700 projects. 

"We hope to plant a special seed this Earth Day, and that's a genuine love for learning in high-need public schools all across America," said Amy Herskovitz, executive director of the Pershing Square Foundation. "We are thrilled by the tremendous success of the first two 'Almost Home' offers, and we can't wait to use this new philanthropic model again for Earth Day."

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.

Classroom project requests that support the environment come from public and charter school teachers in all 50 states and range from a Mississippi classroom in need of an ecosystems learning kit to emphasize the importance of making decisions that affect our environment, to a classroom in the Bronx that needs a laptop for a growing community service club that promotes environmental justice.

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, 122,000 public and charter school teachers have used the site to secure funding for $50 million in books, art supplies, technology, and other resources that their students need to learn. Through individuals from all walks of life have helped 3 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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