Charles Best Profile

Living proof that one man can, if he is passionate enough, make a difference, Charles Best combines education, philanthropy and technology in all that he does; how many speakers do you know who allow the audience to choose how his fee is spent? From high school students to top-level businessmen, nobody can fail to be inspired by Charles’ endeavors.

Working as a teacher at a Bronx public high school, Charles decided to address educational inequity by launching DonorsChoose.all, a non-profit organization which allows teachers to request funding for classroom projects. To date, more than 50% of America’s public schools have created at least one classroom project request, leading to over a million people donating $200 million. This money has helped 10 million students, mainly in low-income communities, to access books, art supplies, information technology and other resources.

Fast Company nominated as one of its “50 Most Innovative Companies in the World,” making it the first charitable organization to do so. Oprah Winfrey described the organization as one of her “Ultimate Favorite Things.” On a personal level, Charles has been included in Fortune magazine’s “40 under 40 hottest rising stars in business.”

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    Charles stands at the intersection of education, philanthropy and technology. His personal story demonstrates that one person can launch a movement, and his insights inspire businesspeople and students alike. Charles even puts his speaker’s fee in the hands of his audience, giving everyone a philanthropic gift card to spend on a classroom request of their choice.

    In 2000, while teaching history at a Bronx public high school, Charles launched, a nonprofit organization that provides a simple way to address educational inequity. Today, half of all the public schools in America have at least one teacher who has created a classroom project request on, and more than a million people have donated $200 million, providing books, art supplies, technology and other resources to 10 million students, overwhelmingly in low-income communities. is one of Oprah Winfrey’s “Ultimate Favorite Things” and was named by Fast Company as one of the “50 Most Innovative Companies in the World,” the first time a charity has received this recognition. For three years, Fortune magazine has named Charles to its “40 under 40 hottest rising stars in business.”

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Charles Best's Speech Descriptions

Charles tells the inspiring story of how, as a 24 year old public school teacher in the Bronx, he came up with the model of giving which The New York Times has described as “the future of philanthropy.” He tells of his mistakes, his inspirations and the many poignant stories he has encountered along the way.

Charles outlines how organizations such as his,, along with others such as Kickstarter and Etsy, have changed the paradigms for those who have good ideas they wish to bring to life. He demonstrates how the “gatekeepers” can no longer stand in your way if you wish to innovate. An innovator himself, Charles gives every member of his audience a DonorsChoose gift card (paid for by his speaker’s fee) that allows them to become involved in helping students in need themselves.

Although is a charitable organization, the lessons Charles has to teach concerning crowd funding, crowd sourcing, integrity insurance and data management are applicable to any company who is interested in tapping the immense resources of the Internet community.

No More Gatekeepers
Best shares how, as a 24-year-old teacher at a Bronx high school, he created a model of giving hailed as "the future of philanthropy" by The New York Times. His story starts with the high school wrestling coach who inspired him to become a teacher, the most humiliating mistake he ever made getting off the ground, and the most poignant moments of its journey, such as the projects teachers created to recover from the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Today, teachers at 70% of public schools in America have created projects on, and more than $430 million has been raised to fulfill more than 735,000 projects.

Best connects his story to other sites that—like—enable anyone to go public with their idea and request financial support. Best says these sites signal a profound change in how long someone has to wait to have their need met, and who you have to know, and how lucky you have to be, to bring a good idea to life. He says they represent a new kind of marketplace where gatekeepers no longer stand in your way.

Pushing Intelligence Out to the Edge
In launching out of his Bronx classroom, Best pioneered the crowd-funding movement. Today, teachers at half of all the public schools in America have created project requests on, and more than a million people have donated $200 million.

That scale of growth has spurred Best and his team to tap the power of both crowd-funding and crowd-funding, making the first charity ever named to Fast Company's list of the "50 Most Innovative Companies in the World." Best explains how the team has:

    • Opened up a mountain of data so that people can discover what schools most need and which teaching topics are trending, inspiring hundreds of web developers to build apps that engage the public in public schools.
    • Crowdsourced many aspects of integrity assurance and quality control, a shift that has delivered huge productivity gains as well as cost savings.
    • Turned into a platform that companies like Google, Facebook, Starbucks, and Chevron are using to do cause marketing, to engage their customers and employees in philanthropy, and to "do well by doing good."

Charles concludes by giving everyone a gift card (underwritten by his speaker's fee) to spend on a classroom project of their choice.

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