Five Questions for Charles Best


This post is by Collab Fund from Collab Fund


Charles Best is founder of DonorsChoose, a nonprofit that lets individuals donate directly to public school classrooms.

Its impact has been astounding:

— 86% of public schools in America have posted a project on DonorsChoose.

— Almost 5.5 million individual donors have contributed.

— It’s given over $1.3 billion to support requests from teachers (from over 87,000 schools).

I recently asked Charlies five questions.

What aren’t people talking about enough?

Tests that are worth teaching to. Standardized tests don’t have to suck the life out of a subject. We can build assessments that capture critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, empathy, and other core attributes–and those assessments could be the basis for both accountability and true learning.

What’s a piece of commonly accepted advice you think is wrong?

“Launch as soon as you have a minimally viable product so you can start iterating based on customer feedback” isn’t wrong, but I think there’s one big exception to Eric Ries’ Lean Startup ethos, and that is brand naming. When I came up with the name “DonorsChoose,” I chose poorly. The name doesn’t imply anything about schools, teachers, or educational equity, and most importantly, the syllables in “DonorsChoose” do not easily roll off the tongue or stick to the brain. But early on, we had some great media stories referring to us by that name. If Oprah has just done a segment saying that “DonorsChoose is a revolutionary charity,” how could we ever touch the name?

The window of opportunity to change a (Read more...)