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Stephen Colbert announces Ripple’s $29 million donation to fund school classroom projects

Biggest donation in the nonprofit’s history has the host giddy, but that doesn’t mean he wants you to explain blockchain again

Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert announcing Ripple’s $29 million donation to DonorsChoose.org

On Tuesday, late night television host Stephen Colbert announced that Ripple and its executives donated over $29 million to fund every single teacher request on the school crowdfunding site DonorsChoose.org.

“Please don’t explain blockchain to me,” the comedian joked as he broke the big news taping CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The announcement took place to a cheering crowd in place of one of Colbert’s signature charity-plugs. Only this time, instead of asking people to donated funds, he asked them to join him in celebrating the milestone for DonorsChoose.org. The website is a platform where teachers can present a project for their classroom and ask for supplies, pens, paper, and even furniture to be donated to their students. Colbert has been on their board of directors since 2009.

“Today marks the first time in 18 years where the total number of projects on our site reads ‘0.’” DonorsChoose.org said today in a blog post. “Thanks to Ripple’s gift, over the next few weeks tens of thousands more boxes full of supplies will start arriving in classrooms across the country.”

“We are awestruck by the generosity of the Ripple team. Their gift will provide learning materials and experiences to more than a million students, overwhelmingly in low-income communities,” said Charles Best, a Bronx, New York, public school teacher turned businessman who founded DonorsChoose.org. “I doubt that there has ever been a day when more classroom dreams came true.”

The donation fulfilled 35,647 requests from 28,210 public school teachers in every state. Teachers at 16,561 public schools—or one in six of all the public schools in America—will receive books, school supplies, technology, field trips, and other resources vital for learning, according to a press release. Only the schools who had fundable projects ready to go—and the humility to ask for support before the big donation—were approved.

“At Ripple, we care about giving back to our community and we collectively value the importance of quality education in developing the next generation of leaders,” said Monica Long, senior vice president of marketing at Ripple, in the statement. “DonorsChoose.org’s track record speaks for itself—they are highly effective at improving the quality of education and the experience of teachers and students across America. We’re proud to work with them to support classroom needs across the country.”

This is familiar territory for Colbert.  In 2010, he helped raise several hundred thousand dollars for the site as part of his and Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Keep Fear Alive”. And in 2015, in between his stint at Comedy Central’s Colbert Report and taking over for David Letterman on The Late Show, the South Carolina native funded every single school project on the DonorsChoose.org website.

Knowing how to ask for money is a fundamental part of both blockchain currencies and of the nonprofit world. Asking for money can be one of the most tiresome parts of any nonprofit endeavor, whether you’re a teacher or someone with the resources like Stephen Colbert. (Full disclosure: this journalist’s unbelievably tiny nonprofit prosthetics clinic in Bolivia is also a recipient of Colbert’s Ben & Jerry’s-based Americone Dream Fund.)

Best also announced with Long that this was the biggest donation in the history of the school crowdfunding platform. “We at Ripple all have teachers to thank for giving us the education and opportunities that helped us get to where we are today in our careers,” Long said on the DonorsChoose YouTube channel. “And we want to pay that forward so that more teachers are able to give those opportunities to kids across America”.

“If you want to help go to donors choose and donate,” Colbert said before sign off. “I guarantee you there will be plenty of projects on there starting tomorrow.”

[Editor’s excessive disclosure: Ken Kurson, founder of Modern Consensus, is on the board of directors of Ripple.]

Brendan Sullivan is a writer, producer, and author of the memoir Rivington Was Ours: Lady Gaga, the Lower East Side, and the Prime of Our Lives. Disclosure: he owns cryptocurrencies. Follow him on Twitter.