Disney’s Planet Challenge Announces Funding For Classroom Environmental Science Projects

BURBANK, Calif. – November 19, 2009 – In recognition of tightening classroom budgets and the increasing importance of environmental science education, Disney today announced a new granting initiative to supplement its free environmental learning competition for 4th – 6th grade classrooms, Disney’s Planet Challenge. Disney is collaborating with DonorsChoose.org, an online charity that connects individual “citizen philanthropists” with classrooms in need, to match donations and fund 50 percent of each Disney’s Planet Challenge classroom environmental science project that qualifies.

“With Disney’s Planet Challenge, it was important for us to create a turn-key, educationally sound program for teachers trying to balance the educational needs of kids today with shrinking budgets,” said Dr. Beth Stevens, senior vice president of Environmental Affairs at The Walt Disney Company. “Now, with DonorsChoose.org, we’re providing educators with a simple solution to get the resources they need for the project of their choice through donations from caring individuals that will be matched by Disney.”

Disney is providing a $100,000 grant to DonorsChoose.org that will be applied towards the Web site’s “Double Your Impact” feature which will fund 50% of environmental science classroom projects for Disney’s Planet Challenge, a program developed by Disney in collaboration with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), West Ed K-12 Alliance and a number of federal and state government agencies. To participate, between now and December 18, 4th – 6th grade educators across the U.S. can find out more at Disney’s Planet Challenge* (see below for additional details). As projects are funded, individual donors can return to the site to see how their donations have translated into meaningful class projects. To view projects that have already been submitted, click here.

National, regional and state winning classrooms of Disney’s Planet Challenge will receive an array of prizes including a class celebration at Disneyland® for the national grand prize champion. The winning class will also have a chance to meet a Disney Channel star and the class and its winning project may be featured on the Disney Channel. Other prizes include thousands of dollars in classroom grants, class screenings of the next Disneynature film, OCEANS, and more. Additionally, winning teachers will receive a one year NSTA membership. The grand-prize winning educator will also receive an expense paid trip to the national 2011 NSTA conference where he or she will be recognized at the NSTA awards banquet.

About Disney’s Planet Challenge

Disney’s Planet Challenge is a project-based environmental competition for 4th – 6th grade classrooms that empowers students to make a difference in school, at home and in their local communities. With more than 15 years experience running highly-acclaimed classroom environmental competitions in regional markets including California and Florida (as “Disney’s Environmentality Challenge®”), Disney developed the new Disney’s Planet Challenge in response to growing demand across all 50 states. Program collaborations with the National Science Teacher’s Association (NSTA), the WestEd K-12 Alliance, the U.S. and California Environmental Protection Agencies, U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife and the California Department of Education ensure academic and environmental excellence. National, regional and state winners will receive an array of Disney prizes including a class celebration at Disneyland® for the national grand prize champion. Participation in the program is free, and enrollment is open at Disney’s Planet Challenge.

About DonorsChoose.org

DonorsChoose.org is a nonprofit website that connects teachers in need with individuals that want to help. Public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests on DonorsChoose.org ranging from pencils for a poetry writing unit, to violins for a school recital, to microscope slides for a biology class. DonorsChoose.org was pioneered by a Bronx high school teacher, Charles Best, in 2000. In the past nine years of operations, residents of 50 states and 10 countries have funded over 100,000 classroom projects, channeling more than $41 million in resources to 2.6 million students.

Additional Details for educators:

Teachers, submit your environmental project to DonorsChoose.org (if you don’t already have an account, visitwww.donorschoose.org/teachers) to qualify for this 50% match offer. To meet the criteria to be eligible for this program, you must be a 4th, 5th or 6th grade public school teacher and your submitted project should be environmental in nature. The system will recognize your eligibility. Funding will activate automatically to bring your project to life when other donors choose to join in and fund the rest of the project.