So imagine the joy across Bay Area schools, last week, when 604 teachers opened the mail to discover that Google would spend more than $600,000 to fund requests through the Donors Choose website, where teachers ask for outside money to fund pet projects.
"You can be a minor philanthropist or a major philanthropist, your choice," Dnoors Choose spokesperson Ali Austerlitz said.
Austerlitz was shocked when Google agreed to fulfill every local request.
Oakland High School teacher Payton Carter, for instance, asked for graphic novels to inspire kids who might not otherwise get into reading.
"They want stuff that is interesting, where pictures tell the story, too," he said. "It can help them figure it out."
Jennifer Howard received an iPad, some dividers, binders, and white boards.
"I would say it doesn't have value on it, but it helps the students understand there are other people who value them and their education as well," she said.
But many of the requests were unconventional -- a net for a batting cage in Alameda, violin strings in Hayward, boxing gloves in San Francisco
Science teacher Katie Noonan now has upgrades for a remotely operated submersible, which the kids build and operate.
Talk about Google sending a message to students.
"They are opening eyes to possibilities that they can do this kind of work," Noonan said.