If re-opening schools in the midst of a pandemic and reduced budgets wasn’t challenging enough, school administrators and teachers are under added pressure to help students cope with and understand the issues of social injustice and racial tension that have drawn national headlines for the better part of 2020. Educators are challenged to better inform their students about the roots of racism in this country, how it is reflected in modern society, and help them gain the perspective and communication skills needed to advance institutionalized norms that strengthen social equity.
The need for funding and relevant materials to support these educational efforts is evidenced by the 2,600 “diverse books”-related projects currently seeking funding on the Donor’s Choose website, donorschoose.org. DonorsChoose is a non-profit organization that facilitates crowd-funding for public school teachers’ classroom needs, resource acquisition and delivery. Since its founding 20 years ago, DonorsChoose has enabled almost $1 billion of funding for over 1.7 million projects on behalf of teachers in 85% of our public K-12 schools.
On August 7, Donor’s Choose welcomed their newest supplier, MahoganyBooks, an award-winning, Washington, D.C.-based independent retailer specializing in books written for, by, or about people of the African Diaspora. The announcement could not come at a better time.
Ramunda Young, co-owner and co-founder of MahoganyBooks, describes their offerings as “imperative for any student expanding their worldview and perception of other cultures. We’re thrilled to partner with DonorsChoose to ensure books with rich cultural content are accessible to teachers nationwide.”
The announcement noted that teachers can immediately choose from a curated list of books that are ideal for middle and high school students. More titles — including options for elementary students — will be added later this fall.
In less than a week following the announcement, 124 projects specifically seeking support for MahoganyBooks’ resources were posted to a dedicated funding page on DonorsChoose. Thirteen of those requests have received combined funding totaling $1,534 through individual donations and the matching donations made by the Equal Justice Initiative in support of requests for a select list of books, including Just Mercy.
All of this was made possible through an introduction made by DonorsChoose procurement enablement partner, EqualLevel. EqualLevel and MahoganyBooks are both in the Washington, D.C., metro area. When DonorsChoose expressed their desire to enhance the diversity of their supplier base, EqualLevel’s CEO, Orville Bailey, recognized a win-win opportunity for his customer and the small, family-owned, mission-focused specialty book retailer that he knew.
The connection made would be more than the sharing of business contact information between the two potential partners. As the DonorsChoose-Mahogany Books relationship developed and was ultimately formalized, EqualLevel’s GO e-commerce platform provided Mahogany Books the seamless connection with the DonorsChoose Marketplace.
In their August 7 announcement, DonorsChoose CFO and EVP of fulfillment, Geoff Hill said, “Our procurement partners at EqualLevel introduced us to Ramunda and Derrick Young and helped us launch MahoganyBooks as a vendor in record time this summer. We’re so proud to be able to offer our teachers the opportunity to request valuable classroom materials from MahoganyBooks, while at the same time supporting a Black-owned independent bookstore that gives back to the Washington, D.C. community. We can’t wait to see all of the teachers and students who will benefit during this back-to-school season.”
- To learn more about DonorsChoose and support teachers’ educational resources needs, visit donorschoose.org.
- Review the entire MahoganyBooks catalog at mahoganybooks.com.
- To learn more about EqualLevel’s GO platform for suppliers and PunchOut enabled e-commerce functionality, visit EqualLevelGO, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (301)560-1492.