9 Best Charities That Support Public Schools (Complete 2022 List)

9 Best Charities That Support Public Schools (Complete 2022 List)

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Dennis Kamprad

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Public schools in the US and across the world are often underfunded, leading to education inequalities, especially within low-income communities. Fortunately, there are numerous charities around the world dedicated to offsetting this imbalance. So we had to ask: What are the best charities that support public schools?

The best charities that support public schools are Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, DonorsChoose, and Kids In Need Foundation. Other charities like Teach for America and NYC Outward Bound Schools have crucially been useful in training public school teachers to improve their teaching outcomes. 

Whether you want to improve the quality of public school education, sponsor a public school student, or supply them with learning tools, there is a charity for you. But, choosing a charity with impactful and lasting goals and missions is essential. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities that support public schools are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to make a contribution.

Related: Did you know that you can make Amazon donate 0.5% of your purchases to a charitable organization of your choice. Sign up at smile.amazon.com, select the charity you want your donations to go to, and make Amazon donate a part of your purchases to your chosen charity at no extra cost to you.

Here’s What All the Best Charities That Support Public Schools Have in Common

The charities listed below work closely with the public, local communities, governmental organizations, and other stakeholders to ensure equal access to quality education across the US and beyond. Their work is a continuous process of improving public school education and empowering scholars from disadvantaged communities.

Although their projects may be based in different locations – from public schools throughout the US to India, they all work towards a shared goal. Which is to close the quality and opportunity gap between private and public school education.

These Are the 9 Best Charities That Support Public Schools

Below are our favorite charities that support public schools:

  • Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO)
  • DonorsChoose
  • Kids in Need Foundation
  • School on Wheels
  • Teach For America
  • Scholarship America
  • Pratham USA
  • NYC Outward Bound Schools
  • Street School

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO): Closing the Opportunity Gap

Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) was founded in 1963 by investment banking consultant Michael Osheowitz to support underprivileged children so they can get into competitive colleges and universities. Today, SEO is a global franchise renowned for their educational programs that support students from underprivileged communities.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Sponsors for Educational Opportunity has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Creating a more equitable society by closing the academic and career opportunity gaps for motivated young people from underserved and/or historically excluded communities.”

Sponsors for Educational Opportunity

What they do: Sponsors for Educational Opportunity is committed to closing the achievement gap between learners from low-income schools and affluent schools. They currently manage six programs that range from academic scholarships to summer internships. For instance, SEO Scholars – the most prominent of these six programs – is an eight-year academic program that sponsors public high school learners from low-income communities all the way through college.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity have benefitted over 21,000 students across the globe, who are now an active part of their alumni network. Some of these alumni have helped to establish global SEO branches. What’s more, a 2014 independent study found that SEO Scholars on average scored higher in their SATs than the average college-bound senior. They also have high acceptance and graduation rates in college. And 80% of SEO Career beneficiaries gain full-time employment even before they graduate from college. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Sponsors for Educational Opportunity via their website. You can also support the SEO Annual Fund which finances all SEO programs or directly sponsor an SEO Scholar.

DonorsChoose: The Public Helping Public Schools

DonorsChoose was founded in 2000 by Charles Best, a teacher at a Bronx public high school, simply as a website connecting classroom projects that need funding to anyone wanting to help. This website has now grown into a fully-fledged charitable organization that connects public philanthropy to disadvantaged public school needs across the US.

Their impact and transparency ratings: DonorsChoose holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also received the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“We make it easy for anyone to help a teacher in need, moving us closer to a nation where students in every community have the tools and experiences they need for a great education.”

DonorsChoose

What they do: DonorsChoose manages a crowdfunding website where teachers can post request for funding for school projects and supplies and every visitor can donate directly to any of these projects. Once a project has been fully funded, DonorsChoose then fulfils this request. And in the end, each donor is acknowledged for their efforts and receives a full breakdown of how their donations were utilized.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, DonorChoose have funded over 2.3 million projects in more than 87% of public schools, thanks to more than 5.31 million people raising more than $1.3 billion in total. These donations have enabled DonorsChoose to deliver 8.85 million books, and 2.32 million art supplies, as well as finance about 29,000 class trips. Teachers at more than 85% of all the public schools in America have created classroom project requests on DonorsChoose, and more than 4.5 million people have given to those projects. In total, about 82% of all classroom projects posted on DonorsChoose have been fully funded. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to the charity’s mission by logging on to their website and scrolling through the various classroom projects posted there. Find a project that inspires you and donate any amount from $1 up until the full project request; many projects are also additionally sponsored by companies that’d then double your donations.

Kids In Need Foundation (KINF): Supplying Under-resourced Students and Teachers 

Kids In Need Foundation (KINF) was founded in 1995 by stakeholders of the school and office supplies industry to provide school supplies to under-resourced public schools. The charity now operates educational programs and affiliate learning centers that support teachers and learners with teaching supplies and backpacks containing student supplies.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Kids In Need Foundation (KINF) received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“By partnering with teachers and students in under-resourced schools, we provide the support needed for teachers to teach and learners to learn.”

Kids in Need Foundation

What they do: Kids In Need Foundation operates a national network of 42 resource centers where teachers can collect free supplies for themselves and their students – their Supply A Teacher and Supply A Student programs. And through their Second Responder program, they support teachers and students impacted by natural disasters. In addition, they also provide teachers with their free online teaching resources library.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the Kids In Need Foundation have supported over 7.8 million under-resourced students and over 316,000 teachers from underfunded schools our of a their charity network that has grown to 42 resource centers. In total, more than $162 million in supplies has been delivered to beneficiaries across the US. 

Ways to contribute: You can directly donate to Kids In Need Foundation via their website. You can also make a product donation to any of the charity’s Resource Centers or volunteer at a resource center near you.

School on Wheels: Education Despite Homelessness

School on Wheels was founded in 1993 by Agnes Stevens, a retired schoolteacher, to offer educational opportunities to homeless students. Nowadays, the charity has partnered with hundreds of facilities across Southern California to provide educational and after-school support to students experiencing homelessness.

Their impact and transparency ratings: School on Wheels has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, as well as the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“To enhance educational opportunities for children who are experiencing homelessness from kindergarten through twelfth grade.”

School on Wheels

What they do: School on Wheels have partnered with over 400 sites across Southern California to provide various educational and shelter services to students facing homelessness. The charity provides the students with volunteer tutors, a digital learning initiative, and school supplies so that they do not fall behind in school.

What they’ve achieved: School on Wheels offers remote tutoring to students across a 2,500-square-mile span in Southern California. And, for example, in 2020, over 3,000 volunteer tutors and donors supported 2,360 children facing homelessness. As a result, over 8,000 backpacks, 1494 laptops and tablets, and 1,015 books were donated.

Ways to contribute: You can directly donate to School on Wheels via their website. Alternatively, you can conduct supply drives on behalf of the charity and you can also bequeath a portion of your wealth through planned giving.

Teach For America: Teaching for Equality

Teach For America was founded in 1990 after Wendy Kopp conceived the idea of using competent college graduates to teach in struggling public schools. Today, the charity is focused on providing educational equity to millions of low-income students across America.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Teach For America holds a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator, scoring 85.92% for transparency. They have also been awarded the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Enlist, develop, and mobilize as many as possible of our nation’s most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.”

Teach For America

What they do: Teach For America is committed to confronting the educational inequality faced by disenfranchised communities. The charity has partnered with more than 5,000 college graduates across the US. These graduates pledge to teach for at least 2 years in low-income schools and communities and receive extensive training, coaching, and professional development from TFA.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Teach For America has grown into a network of over 62,000 corps members and alumni which has positively impacted over 2,500  public schools. 14,900 of these alumni are now fully-fledged teachers, 1,377 are school leaders, and 601 are school system leaders. Furthermore, there are over 1,000 alumni working as policy and advocacy leaders with the aim of closing the opportunity gap in the education sector.

Ways to contribute: You can directly donate to Teach For America through their website. You can also join The Key, a monthly donation program where you can support at least one student. Alternatively, you can partner with the charity and help fund or raise awareness for their cause.

Scholarship America: Fulfilling Every Scholar’s College Dreams

Scholarship America was founded in 1958 by Dr. Irving Fradkin as a community scholarship fund. Today, the organization is America’s largest private scholarship charity.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Scholarship America has a 3-star accountability and transparency rating from Charity Navigator. The charity also has a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“To be the most trusted scholarship and student success organization offering impactful solutions with students always at the forefront.”

Scholarship America

What they do: Scholarship America provides access to hundreds of scholarship solutions from different charities across the US. They also run the Dollars for Scholars program, where the public donates to a scholarship fund. Furthermore, the Scholarship America Dream Award is an annual scholarship package that is renewable for up to three years. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Scholarship America has disbursed over $4.9 billion to about 2.9 million scholars across America. For example, in 2021 alone, Scholarship America sponsored over 100,000 new students to the tune of over $286 million. These students accounted for 50% of all beneficiaries of the charity in 2021.

Ways to contribute: The best way you can contribute to the charity is by donating via their website. Alternatively, you can donate to a Dollars for Scholars chapter near you. Another way you can give is through planned and estate giving.

Pratham USA: Quality Education for All Children

Pratham was founded in 1995 through a collaboration between Dr. Madhav Chavan, Farida Lambay, UNICEF, and the Mumbai Municipal Corporation to provide educational opportunities to disadvantaged children in Mumbai’s slums. Nowadays, Pratham provides millions of children across India with innovative, low-cost educational programs with the help of their US affiliate, Pratham USA.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Pratham USA has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. Furthermore, the charity holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Every child in school and learning well.”

Pratham USA

What they do: Pratham USA utilizes volunteers in 14 chapters across the US to help raise funds and awareness for Pratham’s educational programs in India. Some of Pratham’s programs include learning and literacy, fostering girls’ education, research and advocacy, and vocational training. Also, the organization spearheads collaboration with stakeholders in India’s education landscape, such as the state governments, to influence positive education policies. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Pratham USA has helped to support over 75 million underprivileged children in India. In 2018 alone, 15.7 million children benefitted from their literacy and learning programs. Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) has also been praised for improving the visibility of learning outcomes to stakeholders in the education sector. ASER has inspired similar citizen-led assessments of the quality of education in as many as 14 countries. 

Ways to contribute: You can directly donate to Pratham USA via their website. Alternatively, you can support the charity by shopping through AmazonSmile or by joining one of their chapter communities.

NYC Outward Bound Schools: Experiential Learning for NYC’s Public Schools

NYC Outward Bound Schools was founded in 1987 by a group of Outward Bound enthusiasts who wanted to improve educational equity in New York City. Today, the charity oversees a network of public schools and Outward Bound education programs across the city.

Their impact and transparency ratings: NYC Outward Bound Schools hold a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, with a 91% transparency and accountability score. Also, they received the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“To use Outward Bound’s educational approach to effect positive and lasting change in the lives of New York City’s young people and their public schools.”

NYC Outward Bound Schools

What they do: NYC Outward Bound Schools operates a network of over 70 public schools across New York City. These schools teach and operate under the charity’s Outward Bound model, which emphasizes demanding and engaging learning through learning expeditions and case studies, as well as the charity’s signature Crew Initiative. Furthermore, the charity supports its network of schools by training teachers to use their unique education model.

What they’ve achieved: NYC Outward Bound Schools’ distinct approach to education has helped to reduce the educational quality gap in New York City. For example, in 2021, they served 14,900 students and 1,220 teachers, in 34 schools across the city. Furthermore, about 90% of the senior students from their network of schools graduate from high school and, since 2014, the college enrolment rate among networked schools has increased by 13%.

Ways to contribute: You can directly donate to NYC Outward Bound Schools through your website. Alternatively, you can join their Honor Roll by becoming a monthly donor, or gift through a donor-advised fund or planned giving.

Street School: Preventing Public School Dropouts

Street School was founded in 1973 as a drop-in center for at-risk youth. Today, the charity equips underprivileged Oklahoma students with counselling and educational programs  to minimize public school dropouts.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Street School has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. The charity also has a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Street School is a non-profit alternative education and counseling program that transforms lives by building healthy minds, creating opportunities, and preparing students for the future.”

Street School

What they do: Street School operates in Oklahoma guided by their principles of mutual respect, personal accountability, direct communication, and community. These principles guide their programs which aim at eradicating school dropouts among students from low-income communities. The charity offers an alternative academic program and a therapeutic counseling program, which look after each student’s welfare. In addition, Street School offers a first-offender program geared toward preventing juvenile offenders from becoming repeat offenders.

What they’ve achieved: Street School supports around 200 high school children annually. For example, in their 2021 cohort, they served 170 Oklahoma children: 77% of these students earned a college prep diploma, and 82% successfully went through their therapeutic counseling program. In total, their cohort’s average GPA rose from 1.5 to 2.3 and the absent days per student dropped from 18 days to only 8

Ways to contribute: You can directly donate to Street School via their website. In addition, you can sponsor a senior in their final year of Street School and ensure they get a graduation package or fulfill the wish list for their Heart and Soul Student Store.

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities that support public schools. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Donate a percentage of your online purchases. If you bought anything on sites like Amazon lately, you’d find a prompt asking you to donate to your favorite charities through their Amazon Smile program. You can set this up so that your chosen charities will get a fraction of your online purchases.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to supporting public schools – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,



PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

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Dennis Kamprad

Dennis is the founder of Impactful Ninja and passionate about enabling you to make a positive impact on the world & society. He started his professional career as a Sustainability Consultant and has worked on several social projects around the world. Outside of work, he is a passionate salsa dancer, fast runner, and multiple Ironman finisher.

Did you know that the internet is a huge polluter of the environment? But fortunately not this site. This site is powered by renewable energy and all hosting-related CO2 emissions are offset by three times as many renewable energy certificates. Find out all about it here.

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