So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

Helping teachers one latte at a time


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A teacher is able to supply guitars to his students thanks to gift card donations as part of a partnership between LAUSD and the Wasserman Foundation (using the online nonprofit

Looks like buying that latte will also bring good karma Monday.

Nearly 200 L.A. Starbucks coffee shops will give away 285,000 gift cards — worth $10 each — to the public Monday so that they can help pay for an LAUSD or charter school classroom project, officials said.

The money comes as part of a unique partnership between the district and the Wasserman Foundation that launched in November. Through the program teachers have, to date, received about $2 million to buy supplies ranging from paper to iPads. 

The foundation donated $4 million for teachers in the form of gift cards ($2 million broken up into $15 cards and sent out to schools) and matching funds (up to $1 million each year for two years). The gift cards qualify for matching funds as well, as long as there are no more than two projects for a total of $1,000 each per teacher. The district sent the cards out to schools in December, and each school decided how best to get them to the district's roughly 600,000 parents, district officials said.

The $15 gift cards must be redeemed by Feb. 16, or the money remains unspent. The Starbucks gift cards will expire March 16.

As of today more than 42,000 parent gift cards have been redeemed to fully fund about 3,800 projects, said Katie Morgan, partnership manager for the West Region of The New York-based nonprofit organization has facilitated online donations to help teachers buy more than $100 million in supplies over the last 11 years that have gone to nearly 6 million students across the country, Morgan said.

There are currently more than 3,370 projects online and waiting funding for LAUSD classrooms. Teachers can put projects online along with their goals and a photo of the class. Parents can then go online, type in their card's code and give the class money.

The district faces a $543 million budget shortfall this next year and has discussed the possibility of employee layoffs, cutting entire school programs and losing months of school. Some teachers have spent hundreds of their own dollars to provide supplies for their students.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@LATams).



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