It's me, Damian, in Australia. We're getting ready for a short little tour here, which is exciting because, like absolutely everyone, I'm super into marsupials, and it's a rare chance for a boy like me to watch the toilet flush backwards.
I'm writing to ask for your help with a little good old-fashioned world-saving. My close friend and former band-mate*, Oliver, is one of the brains behind DonorsChoose.org, one of the coolest non-profits I know of. They're finalists to win a huge grant from the American Express Member's Project and they need your vote -- it'll only take a couple minutes of your time, and it'll do a lot of good.
DonorsChoose.org is a website listing public school teachers' best ideas for classroom projects. Public school teachers, who are so chronically under-funded that they often have to pay for books and materials out of their own pockets, submit projects they need money for, and real people like you and Jorge and my mom (bless her heart) can browse the various submissions and choose to directly help fund the ones that strike a chord. It's an ingeniously simple system that actually helps the people who need the help; 100% of the money ($13 million so far!) goes to classroom projects, unless donors specifically earmark their donation to help keep the lights on at DonorsChoose.org.
The AmEx grant is huge (up to $5 million), and chosen by an online vote open to all AmEx cardholders. If we vote DonorsChoose.org to victory, every penny will go to fund the more than ten thousand classroom projects in their database; DonorsChoose.org won't keep a dime. Which is pretty cool.
Right now, our heroes are in 2nd place behind a project that's semi-secretly funded by Procter & Gamble (a $68 billion pharmaceuticals/manufacturing mega-corporation with 140 thousand employees), who want the grant money to help distribute their "Pur" water filtering system. This affiliation isn't mentioned on the site, but the NY Times wrote about it last week. Here's the article, and here's another one from Consumerist.com.
So, if you have an American Express card (or one of these other ones), do me (and 250 thousand public school kids) a favor and vote for vote for DonorsChoose.org.. And if you don't have an AmEx (or an advanced Hogswarts degree in computer hackery), forward this email to people who might.
In any event, you should check out DonorsChoose.org and see what it's all about. We found a few projects that seemed particularly awesome and put them in this registry. Browse those if you like, or search for your own. Only good things will come of it.
PS: If reading a whole post about things that are good and positive and completely wholesome messed with your brain, sorry. To set it back to normal, here's a photo of the creepiest person I saw during our visit to Taiwan. Oops, here he is again.
*Wiki-nerds, start your engines. We were called Calixto Chinchile, and we existed for about 3 months in 1996. Or maybe it was 97. Somewhere out there, there's a recording of us playing the very first version of "Hello, My Treacherous Friends."