How is a school's economic need level defined at DonorsChoose.org?

Poverty level refers to the percentage of students at a given school who qualify for free and reduced fee lunch, which is considered a measure of economic need.

To be deemed eligible for free lunch, a student's family income must be within 130% of the poverty line (a max of $29,055 for a family of four). For reduced fee lunch, the family income must be within 185% of the poverty level (a max of $41,348 for a family of four).

We receive data about students’ economic need from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Projects on DonorsChoose.org will denote the approximate percentage of students at the school that qualify for free and reduced free lunch.  You’ll see the following demarcations in accordance with our NCES data:

  • More than a third of students from low-income households
  • Half of students from low-income households
  • More than half of students from low-income households
  • More than three-quarters of students from low-income households
  • Nearly all students from low-income households

If you believe our data on student household income is incorrect in the DonorsChoose.org database, contact our team (be sure to click "I'm a Teacher," and then select the "Registering, Eligibility, or Account Information" category) and provide us with either an official school report card/government website review of your school's free and reduced lunch percentage, or ask that your principal/director send in an email providing this official percentage.