Sometimes a national charity has a local connection. Donors Choose – the crowd-funding site for school teachers in need – is no exception.

In August, Donors Choose announced that it had received a generous gift from the San Francisco Claire Giannini fund. This one time, 1.3 million dollar donation funded every open request in the entire state of California.

Donors Choose accepts requests from teachers that average from $100 to $500. These requests are for small items that make a big difference in the classroom experiences of students. They can be anything from books and art supplies to equipment for special needs students, to essential classroom technology like an LCD projector.

More and more often, school budgets simply cannot provide these supplies for their teachers and students. Corporate donations are down and many parents and teachers simply don’t have the time to submit long grant applications to foundations and government agencies. The Giannini donation meant that nearly 154 Oakland teachers were able to start the year with funding for supplies and activities.

For example, one of the lucky teachers was local kindergarten teacher Mrs. C. She had several projects on the website, including requests for a math pocket chart and storage cabinet to keep math and science materials safe.

“Can I just tell you how much I love my kindergarten class?” she wrote in her Donors Choose request. “My students rush at me the second I swing open the door to welcome them for another fun day of learning, which makes it tricky to shake their hands. I am so lucky to teach a classroom of bright, vibrant, happy kindergarteners. Our school serves a low-income community where 98 percent of our students receive free or reduced-price lunch assistance, and walking to school can be a scary ordeal given our inner-city setting.”

At Melrose Academy, the students needed some books. Because the school is dual immersion (students from diverse backgrounds learn in both Spanish and English) the teacher was hoping to get some science books in Spanish. But there was an unexpected cultural reward as well. In her thank you letter to the Claire Giannini Fund Ms. M said “This week I had the pleasure of adding the beautiful science books that you purchased for us to our library. Immediately my students flocked to these beautiful non-fiction texts. Many of my African-American students were taking the multiple copies of the Africa books and sharing the exciting information they were learning. I was truly touched.

“We are very much looking forward to digging into all of the books to learn about animals, plants, climate and people all over the world in the coming months,” Ms. M wrote. “Thank you for being such an important part of our curriculum!”

has made a similar commitment to Bay Area schools. Through Sept. 30, one dollar of every eight gallon (or more) fill up in Alameda and Contra Costa counties will go to a special Donors Choose fund. Chevron will donate up to $1 million to Donors Choose science and math projects in those same two counties.

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