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DonorsChoose Teachers Take Delivery of Cryptocurrency-Funded Projects

DonorsChoose.org had better hope the cryptocurrency company Ripple, which promised $29 million to fund every single one of its classroom projects, can afford to follow through on its pledge. The value of Ripple's cryptocurrency, XRP, was down 4.6 percent on Friday, to $0.459 per token, the lowest it has been since mid-December. That's an 86 percent drop from its high of $3.32 per coin, which it reached in January, just before the market for virtual currencies overall took a nose dive.

DonorsChoose is a crowdfunding website that allows teachers to request funding for their class and school projects. The organization has long teamed up with numerous philanthropic and industry partners, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Sergey Brin Family Foundation, Chevron and Staples to match donations to its thousands of projects. For example, donations to a $927 request to cover the expense of six Chromebooks for an elementary class in Mississippi are being matched by Verizon; pledges for a $217 request to acquire a science lab for a Texas elementary class are being matched by Orkin.

The donation announced in late March by DonorsChoose and Ripple covered the complete funding needed for nearly 36,000 projects, the largest donation ever received by the charity and the largest ever made by a company in the crypto market. The donation received extra mileage when the announcement was covered on Stephen Colbert's Late Show. In 2015, the comedian, who serves on the DonorsChoose board of directors, worked with a couple of other organizations to help fund 1,000 projects — every single one requested by teachers in his home state of South Carolina.

According to the New York Times, the Ripple donation would touch classrooms in about one in six public schools.

The check had better clear quickly. Bloomberg News reported last week that a Ripple executive had tried to entice two cryptocurrency exchanges to add XRP to their listings in exchange for financial "incentives." The article suggested that the exchanges have held off in doing so because the virtual currency is controlled by a "single company," meaning that the XRP tokens "could be deemed securities." In that case, XRP would come under the regulatory purview of the Securities Exchange Commission. As a result, exchanges that serve as trading vehicles for XRP would need to register with the SEC as a national exchange or somehow persuade officials to exempt them.

Ripple has more going on than just its digital tokens. The company is getting traction in its efforts to use blockchain technology to provide a global payments system for banks. RippleNet, according to the company, uses a modern, post-internet architecture that eliminates much of the existing "friction" in moving money around the world. The problem, according to some observers, is that Ripple's activities are being funded by its cryptocurrency.

In the meantime, #BestSchoolDay continues to cycle on social media as classrooms across the country take delivery of their new Ripple-funded supplies, equipment and furniture and new projects are posted to DonorsChoose.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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