Digital donation project bolsters needy schools, classrooms

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A virtual digital human genome project of public education needs has been created through the partnership of Looker, a business intelligence software company, and DonorsChoose, an online education charity that helps students and teachers.

The two have teamed up to create a complete, interactive, public resource of education data, called the Giving Index. The index reveals 2013 trends in educational needs and charitable giving across the country.

According to the announcement of the new program, key trend findings include the prevalence of location-based giving, greater contributions to benefit younger students, and increasing emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, projects in higher grade levels.

"DonorsChoose is launching public access to 100 percent of their data through Looker to crowdsource insights that will help steer decision-makers on all levels towards effective reforms," the groups said in an email to FierceCIO.

The open data project, called Hacking Education, enables approved researchers, journalists and citizens to instantly access and share more than 20 million records of DonorsChoose data.

"Looker will allow anyone--not only the tech-savvy--an interactive way to generate educational insights and learn about the current state of giving and need in U.S. schools. Other education open data sets have been folded into the data accessible through Looker, giving the public a treasure trove of critical education data," the groups said in the correspondence with FierceCIO.

According to the announcement on the program, the index was created through Looker's analysis of DonorsChoose.org data, which in 2013 alone included nearly 340,000 donors, $60.2 million in donations and over 130,000 school projects.

"Exploring and analyzing our data through Looker has helped up develop strategies to increase charitable donations to schools," DonorsChoose.org CEO Charles Best said. "By identifying giving trends we can better restructure and target our fundraising. To date, DonorsChoose.org has helped more than 10 million students by channeling $220 million into classrooms across the country. The Giving Index and the public Hacking Education database project will empower Americans with data insights to help improve the education system in America."

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