After The Jump: Spotlight on Donor's Choose

Dear friends,

Because he is the real writer half of the Neon Lights crew and also because he bothered to write things down instead of repeatedly slapping our interviewee on the back like some kind of blowsy seafarer, Jeff K brings us this informative post about Donor's Choose. No, they are not going on after Free Blood. Sheesh. Read the profile, get smart and come to our show with a "Yay, giving to charity makes me feel like kittens!" feeling!

"From muscle memory alone, it seems odd to hover in a laptop's glow without getting hot and bothered about this band or another. My fingers feel wrong when not typing vague adjectives like "ethereal" or "propulsive." So, although there are many great bands playing Saturday's After the Jump Festival on which to expend pixels, it's important to fight through the alien sensation of focusing on something a bit bigger than pop music for a minute. Last week, along with my Neon Lights' cohort D (madam of the word brothel known as Soft Communication*, as you well know) had a jovial beer with Michael Everett-Lane, the Executive Director of Donor's Choose Northeast. After briefly interrogating him about his musical tastes (Mountain Goats, the Pipettes, with a big ol' softspot for Journey's Escape) and his own blogging pedigree (Mike maintains the Ishbadiddle blog and was a founder of the now on hold NYC Bloggers site)** he let us in on the details of the organization that will directly benefit from this weekend's event, and why the work they do is so important.

Donor's Choose was born to help address the massive funding shortfall in this country's public school system. 40% of public school teachers in the United States don't have enough money for textbooks, let alone the supplementary supplies that would make their jobs easier. This year the average teacher will pull an average of $520 dollars from their own not nearly overstuffed wallets in order to give their students a proper education. Mike notes the larger implication that, "Nationwide, public schoolteachers pay billions of dollars a year on average for items that are not covered by their budgets." Frustrated by the bureaucracy of the system as it existed, Bronx schoolteacher Charlie Best founded Donor's Choose in 2000.

The key innovation of Donor's Choose is that, like blogging does for would be writers, it allows individuals to pursue causes that interest them on a specific and personal level. Teachers submit proposals to the organization, and after they are carefully vetted by the National Office (in reality a 40 man garment district office Mike likens to "a sweat shop") they are placed online to await possible donors. While they only fund programs in select parts of the country at the moment, the charity will soon open its doors to proposals from all 50 States. "Teachers know best what they need in their classrooms," explained Mike in regard to this direct micro-scale approach. Requests run the gamut from basic needs like a classroom set of To Kill a Mockingbird to more elaborate and ambitious enrichment programs. Based on their own philanthropic desires, donors choose to fund their preferred proposal large or small, partially or in full.

This level of choice has pulled in people who never would have have contributed before, either due to a previous lack of ease or skepticism that their money would make any kind of tangible impact. From the Brooklyn 1st Graders who held a bake sale to buy their North Carolina counterparts some classroom puzzles to the individual donor who purchased a $27,000 playground set, folks who help Donor's Choose know that their effort is not putting leather couches in the Superintendent's office. To exponentially increase the warm and fuzzy quotient, every single donor receives a comprehensive feedback package of student thank yous, a letter on the impact of their donation from their aided teacher, and photos of their funds in action. It's philanthropy in its purest form.

So, besides a good time what will buying a ticket to Saturday's Night Show at Studio B accomplish? Well, your ticket will help the students at the Bronx High School for the Visual Arts purchase the DJ equipment they'll need in order to teach nearly 400 students how to mix, produce, and perform compositions of their own design. For once, having a drink and a dance could actively nurture the next generation of beat makers and rappers, rock stars and future dance floor fillers. Misanthropists take note, with the Virgins, Soulico, Free Blood, and Riot in Belgium in full swing, you will hardly notice that you're being a good guy.

Advance tickets are available now on Ticket Web for $12 dollars, and it jumps slightly at the door to a still reasonable 14. Kids planning to only attend the free day show should be aware that raffle tickets purchased at the event, which give you a shot at hundreds of CD's, DVD's, boxed sets, concert tickets, and maybe even a $500 dollar all access pass to this year's CMJ Music Festival, will be directly aiding the cause as well.

So buy your tickets right here now, or find your pet cause on Donor's Choose."

More on the music tomorrow...

Love, D

* I protest.

** Interestingly, you can find several of the ATJ bloggers on this on-hiatus map site. If stalking pasty people with vast music collections was your thing this would be the place to go.


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