Grow Up Great: PNC & DonorsChoose.org
To continue its mission of “doing what is right,” PNC teamed up with Donorschoose.org to support early childhood education. One of the nation’s largest banks, PNC prides itself on strong community relationships and a commitment to being a “Main Street” bank dedicated to delivering retail and business banking. Donorschoose.org is the leading platform for giving to public schools. Teachers across America use the site to create projects requesting resources their students need, and donors give to the projects that inspire them. Since its founding in 2000, nearly 3 million people and partners have given $625 million to projects reaching 26 million students.
Donorschoose.org teachers represent more than three-quarters of public schools in the U.S., where requests can range from basic textbooks to winter coats. The organization was looking for ways to expand to more schools, engage new donors, help more teachers and increase visibility.
PNC Grow Up Great is a $350 million, multi-year, bilingual initiative in early childhood education founded in 2004 by the PNC Financial Services Group. To further the program’s mission, PNC awarded a $5 million grant, payable over three years, to DonorsChoose.org to provide pre-K teachers with enhanced classroom resources and experiences. The gift enables DonorsChoose.org to expand its platform to include project requests from Head Start teachers across the nation.
The program launched in April 2017 with the announcement that all Head Start teachers were now eligible to create classroom project requests at donorchoose.org. To celebrate the expansion, and to generate excitement among teachers, PNC fully funded every live pre-K classroom project in PNC’s primary geographic footprint. Teachers awoke to an email notifying them that their projects had been funded, creating a burst of surprise and delight for early childhood educators across the country.
The National Head Start Association featured the program at its national conference on April 10, 2017, where PNC distributed 2,000 DonorsChoose.org gift cards. A multipronged media strategy aimed at raising awareness resulted in 437 print and broadcast stories, which generated 150 million impressions, a Twitter presence which generated more than 18,000 impression and a digitally-led paid awareness campaign that generated 10.8 million impressions.
Immediately following the flash funding, PNC Grow Up Great matched donations dollar-for-dollar to all pre-K and Head Start classroom projects in PNC’s markets. This match offer was valid from April 4 to December 31, 2017, during which PNC Grow UP Great gave each of its 14,500 employees who volunteered during 2016 a $50 DonorsChoose.org electronic gift code, offering each the chance to give to a classroom project of their choice. The redemption rate on these codes was 44 percent, a significantly higher rate than typical—and they brought 2,615 classroom projects to life.
In addition, PNC Grow Up Great supported two teacher-training webinars to help teachers create their first classroom project request. PNC sponsored DonorsChoose.org gift codes ranging from $50 to $100 for teachers who attended or later viewed these webinars to use toward their next project request. The program increased the number of head Start classroom eligible for DonorsChoose.org from 18 percent to 100 percent. Teachers in 1,300 Head Starts across the country have created 2,699 classroom project requests, and 159 teachers viewed the teacher-training webinars. More than 17,000 donors were activated by the PNC Grow Up Great match offer, half of whom were first-time donors on DonorsChoose.org. These individual donors gave a total of $1.5 million, which was matched by PNC Grow Up Great. In the PNC footprint for all pre-K classroom project requests, the project success rate rose from 75 percent to 82 percent while Head Start classroom project request saw their success rate rise from 77 to 88 percent. Feedback was swift. “Wow! When I opened my email and saw that my project was funded, it made my day!” wrote one teacher from Tallahassee, Florida. “I am so excited that I’ll be able to integrate STEAM through literature. The children will love doing a math or science activity after reading a story. I can’t thank you enough!”