Charles Best, named by Fortune magazine three years running to its “40 Under 40 Hottest Rising Stars in Business,” is founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org. Fast Company named DonorsChoose.org as one of the “50 Most Innovative Companies in the World,” the first time a nonprofit has received this recognition. DonorsChoose.org is also one of Oprah Winfrey’s “Ultimate Favorite Things.”
At DonorsChoose.org, public school teachers create classroom project requests and donors choose the projects they want to support. Best launched the organization in 2000 out of a Bronx public high school where he taught history, coming up with the idea during a lunchtime conversation about fundraising struggles with colleagues. He sketched a website on paper and paid a programmer $1,500 to build it.
Today, half of all the public schools in America have at least one teacher who has created a project request on DonorsChoose.org, and more than a million people have donated $200 million to classroom projects reaching 10 million students.
In 2013, he received the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award, which honors young Americans who are changing their communities and country with their commitment to public service.