Although teachers are the sole stewards of their project materials, materials funded through DonorsChoose generally belong to the public school or Head Start center at which the teacher is employed when resources are shipped. We make an exception to this ownership policy for the following projects and scenarios, for which materials are owned by students:
Who gets to use the materials?
Materials are either sent to the school where the teacher is registered on our site when materials are ordered, or to a custom address that the teacher designates when confirming their funding. In either case, materials should be given to the teacher who submitted the project request, to be used with their students. This does not apply to projects where the teacher explicitly describes the intent for materials to be given to the students to use and own, such as projects for take-home books, Distance Learning Projects for students or Warmth, Care & Hunger projects.
Who owns the materials?
Unless the project essay clearly indicates that materials are meant to be given to students to use and own, materials are the property of the public school or Head Start center at which the teacher is employed when resources are ordered. The teacher who created the project is the sole steward of the donation while employed at the school, carrying out the project for which the materials were donated.
Depending on the resources requested, the teacher may choose to have the project materials shipped to a custom address. These materials are also owned by the school, and expected to be ultimately returned to the school with the exception of single-use items, consumables, or other resources intended for student ownership (as outlined above).
If the teacher moves schools after posting a project (but before materials arrive in the classroom):
As long as the new school is public, the teacher remains eligible, and the project can be carried out with the same anticipated outcomes in the new school, teachers can update the school information in their account and continue with the project. This also applies to projects that are fully funded during the summer break, when teachers are most likely to move schools. At any point before project implementation, the teacher can have their materials shipped to the school at which they work. (Note: teachers are required to keep their school information up-to-date in their account, and should never post a project for a school at which they are no longer teaching.)
If the teacher moves within the school:
Materials should remain at the school and continue to be used by the teacher’s current and future students, even if the teacher moves grade levels or subject areas. (This does not apply to consumables or other single-use items.) If the materials are no longer of use to the teacher who requested them, they can be given to another teacher in the school to use with his/her students, and that teacher becomes the steward.
If the teacher moves schools after their project is implemented:
Standard project materials and teacher-use materials should remain at the teacher’s original school if a teacher leaves after receiving the materials, unless both of these criteria are met:
- The teacher will continue to teach in an eligible public school and in a position that meets our eligibility criteria.
- The principal gives consent for the teacher to take funded materials to use in his/her new classroom.
Working within school policy:
Schools and districts often have their own policies for documenting or tracking donated items, and we encourage teachers to learn about these policies before submitting requests for funding on our site. In moments when a school’s policy may make it challenging for a teacher to have regular access to funded materials, our team is happy to provide support in seeking a solution.
What should happen when the materials can no longer be used in the classroom?
We understand that not all materials donated through DonorsChoose can be used forever, so when donated materials--especially technology--reach the end of their life cycle, we leave it up to you and your school administrators as to how to best deal with those materials.
Here’s what we suggest in order of preference:
- If another teacher at your school or district can put the materials to use, we’d love if you donated the items to them.
- If items cannot be used in a public school (in line with our org’s mission), consider donating them to another nonprofit organization in the area such as your local Goodwill or Salvation Army.
- Consult with your principal to see if the items can be sold, and use the funds to purchase updated resources for your students, or support a DonorsChoose.org project at your school. Under no circumstances should the money be pocketed personally.
- As a last resort, if the items are completely out of date, beyond any use, we’re okay with you recycling/disposing of the donated items. Under no circumstances should the items be brought home for personal use.
How do I report an incident to the Trust & Safety team?
If you suspect that someone is misusing donated materials, we encourage you to email email@example.com with any information you may have. Our team will follow up with the appropriate parties, and we will be sure to keep your report confidential.