Social news site reddit isn’t often associated with children’s literature. But the birthplace of memes, where practically anything goes, is asking “redditors” to help fund teacher’s book-related projects through a cooperative program with DonorsChoose.org.
“Let’s prove that reddit can make a difference by donating to book-based DonorsChoose.org projects,” reads a message on the redditgifts site, where participants must register by March 5. “We’ll give each book exchange participant a code that will DOUBLE their next donation to DonorsChoose.org.”
This year, redditgifts annual book exchange has focused on getting titles into students’ hands. “Sci-fi fans: introduce high schoolers to The Hitchhiker’s Guide,” suggests the site. “More of a graphic novel girl? Get some middle school kids acquainted with Bone.”
Users of redditgifts can double their grant up to $1,000 per person. Any reddit member can sign up for the redditgifts book exchange—and nonmembers can join if they create a reddit account.
“Their campaign, to do a book exchange, and ours, to get kids excited about reading, seemed a natural fit,” says Zach Walker, manager of Donor Relations at DonorsChoose. “The match partially comes from reddit and partially from DonorsChoose.org funds.”
Reddit is a user-generated news site where community members post links to stories, photos, videos or any content with personalized tags. Members then vote and comment, controlling which stories move up and down its front page — which can change rapidly. A recent top story was a photo of a woman tattooed with the Twilight logo on her neck, with the tag: “Aaaaaand her life is ruined.”
Redditgifts launched at Christmas in 2009 for the reddit community, allowing users to exchange gifts through a match. People are encouraged to post images of the gifts they’ve received, where other users then comment and share. (Redditgifts was not available for an interview by press time.)
The program with DonorsChoose launched February 13, and reddit members can sign up through 12:00 PST on March 5. To help the reddit community find projects to fund more easily, DonorsChoose and reddit grouped book projects into categories such as science, history, and even comics and graphic novels. At the end of the first weekend, 401 reddit members had donated more than $21,000—which included the matched amount. Walker says there’s no limit to how much money DonorsChoose will match through the project’s duration.
“Our fiscal year ends in June, so we don’t imagine that pot drying up,” he says. “That wouldn’t be the worst problem if we had to have those discussions.”