Last September, former Sen. Herb Kohl, through his Herb Kohl Philanthropies, helped kick off the first day of school by showing what kind-heartedness is and by making a tangible statement about the importance of public education.
He did this by funding every single active Donors Choose campaign launched by a Wisconsin teacher. The foundation funded more than 1,000 projects in more than 400 schools in well over 100 districts in the state. The mass donation reached 65,000 students.
Now, Herb Kohl Philanthropies is celebrating the work of educators this Teacher Appreciation Week by anteing up another $500,000 to match donations made to Wisconsin teachers’ Donors Choose campaigns.
Kohl, to put it in the words of a display hanging at MPS’ 81st Street School, is throwing kindness like confetti.
"These resources are being donated to thank teachers for making a positive impact on the lives of Wisconsin youth," reads a statement from the foundation.
The matching grants help ensure that individual donors remain engaged in the struggle to ensure that all Wisconsin kids have access to the materials and experiences they need to thrive. The $500,000 Kohl gift should result in $1 million raised for Wisconsin schools.
"As the school year winds down, we hope this offer to match donations will kick-start teachers’ plans for next school year and inspire more individuals to support the people doing the one job that makes all other jobs possible – our teachers," said Herb Kohl in a statement.
"Teachers are invited to post projects, and people across the state are invited to show appreciation to our Wisconsin teachers, classrooms and students. Together, let’s double the volume of projects that will benefit education in Wisconsin."
Since 2000, DonorsChoose.org has allowed educators to post campaigns to raise funds for materials, trips and other classroom needs through crowdfunding. The site has helped teachers raise more than $537 million for their students.
Education leaders in the state were quick to laud the move, which shows a continued commitment to Wisconsin children.
"I applaud Herb Kohl's unwavering and continued commitment to ensuring a quality educational experience for all our children in Wisconsin," said MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver. "His generosity will not only provide needed assistance to our schools, but also inspire others to step forward to support our students and staff."
"The teaching profession requires a constant drive to explore and find creative ways to reach students," added State Schools Superintendent Tony Evers. "Many Wisconsin teachers submit project requests through DonorsChoose in hopes of being able to give their kids a new and exciting learning opportunity. I want to thank Herb Kohl for his generous support of those projects and for his continued commitment to the students and teachers of Wisconsin."
The Herb Kohl Philanthropies will fund all live Wisconsin projects this week on DonorsChoose.org, as well as new ones posted today, until the $1 million is reached.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.