Although I am a big believer in personal face-to-face meetings, it often seems like a waste of energy to attend big tech conferences. I’m certainly making the rounds this year, having already made multiple trips to the West Coast and even the UK, and heading out again three times next month. That’s why I was pleased to see that one of the conferences I’m speaking at is trying to do some good for the local community: Interop will donate to math and science related projects in Las Vegas, and I encourage others to do the same.
I’ve been involved with DonorsChoose.org before, encouraging friends and fans of Gestalt IT and Tech Field Day to support a classroom project and the general cause of science and technology education for girls. I have also given to the charity personally and respect it very much.
Donors Choose allows donors literally to choose specific classroom projects to support, acting as a sort of grant program for schools in need. Teachers outline specific requests, and donors decide which projects to fund. This is one of the most transparent and direct charities I know of.
Some may question why schools need extra funding at all, but no one involved in the American public education system would raise such doubts. School systems are strapped for cash, and can rarely fund classroom supplies and enrichment programs. In fact, teachers are expected to buy their own supplies using their meager salaries, and the IRS caps deductibility of these purchases at just $250.
The Conference Connection
Contrast the situation of public school teachers and students in cities like San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Dallas with the extravagant trade shows that take place there, and it’s almost enough to make you cry. Corporations spend thousands of dollars on fancy booths and flashing tchotchkes, while attendees fly in, ride around in taxis, and stay at hotels. Meanwhile, often just across the street, students lack basic supplies, up-to-date textbooks, and facilities productive to learning.
This is why I applaud Interop and United business media for their support of DonorsChoose.org. They are encouraging attendees, exhibitors, and speakers to donate directly, and are linking completed evaluation forms to corporate donations to the charity. For every evaluation form filled out, Interop will donate an (unspecified) amount of money to DonorsChoose.org classroom projects.
I encourage everyone attending Interop (and EMC World, which is also in Las Vegas that week) to support this effort by donating directly to the Interop giving page at DonorsChoose.org.
And I’ll do one better:
I will personally match any contributions to Donors Choose made by attendees at my two sessions, up to a maximum of $1000. If you come to my session, and are willing to donate to this worthy cause, I will join you in supporting it. Since I am cheap and don’t gamble, Donors Choose may help schools in Las Vegas get more money from me then United Airlines, Hilton Hotels, and the taxi services!
All of us must examine our lifestyle and consider helping others. Contributing to support math and science education is perhaps the most worthy cause, since it is an investment in our future. The students we help through Donors Choose are the next generation of IT product vendors and users, and we must all give back to the community. I look forward to seeing you at Interop and EMC World, and hearing how you will help drain my checkbook!