Bay Area startup donates $29 million to classrooms all over U.S.

EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Over 30,000 classrooms, many of them here in the Bay Area, got a big surprise. A San Francisco start-up, Ripple, donated $29 million to fulfill every request posted on the teacher website,

A music teacher and her students in East Palo Alto are thrilled because of the way donations large and small are making a difference in the lives of young people.

Sarah Moulder and her Ravenswood Middle School students in East Palo Alto listed $4,000 in needs on the website. Normally, that attracts small donations from parents and members of the community. However, the site's founder had a connection at San Francisco's Ripple, a cryptocurrency company, and set up a meeting. He had a bold, audacious proposal: A gift of $29 million.

"We met two weeks later, and not long after that, they decided to fund all 35,000 classroom project requests on our site," said founder Charles Best from his New York City office.

Ms. Moulder was surprised to learn her request was fulfilled. "We got two new violas from this," she said. "I'm so excited that the kids get to play actual violas as opposed to violins that are restrung. It's not the same. I just want to make sure that my students have the same educational opportunities that kids do in other districts."

At Ravenswood Middle School, funding has helped to pay for instruments, sheet music, reeds for woodwind instruments and oil to lubricate trumpet valves. It has kindled interest in music and developed budding talent.

We asked 11-year-old Naomi Godinez if she hopes to be a musician someday. "Yeah," she told ABC7 News. "My mom really wants me to play music."

At other schools, Ripple's $29 million gift will cover field trips, robotic kits, and many other needs.

At Ravenswood Middle School, the appeal of its music program is that it is open to all, so any student who has an interest in playing an instrument can do so as long as they have enough instruments to go around.

While Ripple's gift has fulfilled over 35,000 funding requests, the need continues. The website is quickly filling back up with new requests from teachers with needs.

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