Stephen Colbert announces $800,000 donation benefiting South Carolina teachers

Stephen Colbert surprised Greenville teacher Damon Qualls on Thursday announcing he’s helping to fund every project in South Carolina posted on DonorsChoose.org.

More than 800 South Carolina teachers got good news Thursday morning when Stephen Colbert announced that he along with two organizations would be funding all of their classroom initiatives listed on the website DonorsChoose.org.

Colbert partnered with the Denver-based education initiative Share Fair Nation and Greenville-based ScanSource to fund every classroom project in the state listed on DonorsChoose.org, according to a media release.

The three contributions, totaling a combined $800,000, will fund nearly 1,000 projects for more than 800 teachers in more than 375 schools. Locally, projects at more than 55 Lowcountry schools were funded as a result of the donations, including 320 in Charleston County schools.

Pam Inabinett, instructional technology specialist at Windsor Hill Arts Infused Elementary in Dorchester District 2, is among the educators who benefited from the flash fund Thursday. Inabinett was awarded 30 Chromebooks to engage fourth- and fifth-graders in the school’s gifted and talented program.

The technology teacher said she cried when she saw the email saying her project of around $9,500 had been funded.

“I ran to all my principals, I ran to all my teachers,” she said. “I’m very, very excited.”

North Charleston Elementary Teacher Kenneth Brown was about to give up on a project requesting six iPad minis that was set to expire in three days. When he saw the email that he’d be getting them, Brown’s reaction was “Oh my gosh!”

In all, the fifth-grade teacher received around $4,000 for five projects to purchase 10 iPad minis. The devices will allow Brown to better implement an initiative in his classroom that promotes individualized student learning through digital platforms.

Brown said he immediately shared the good news with his students, making a point to show them the emails about the funded projects.

“I wanted to show the students that somebody believes in you and that somebody believes in what I’m doing as a teacher,” he said.

Colbert, a South Carolina native, announced the donation Thursday at a DonorsChoose.org conference in New York. DonorsChoose.org is a crowdfunding nonprofit where teachers post funding requests for classroom materials, equipment or projects.

Colbert, a member of the DonorsChoose.org board of directors, raised the funds for South Carolina classrooms by auctioning off his desk and set pieces from his television show “The Colbert Report,” which ended in December. The television personality will take over as the host of “The Late Show” this fall.

Since 2005, DonorsChoose.org has helped fund 13,000 South Carolina projects, investing over $5.6 million in teachers and students across the state.