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"It was the best Valentine's Day:" Herb Kohl Philanthropies funds $500,000 teacher projects

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin teachers got more than the gift of love on Valentine's Day.

A local philanthropist awarded teachers all over the state with more than $500,000 for their classrooms.

Almost a thousand teachers in Wisconsin received the email on Thursday saying "you've been funded."

CBS 58 News spoke with two of them who are excited to bring something special into their classroom.

"It made my whole day, it was the best Valentine's Day," said Mrs. Waldoch, a teacher at Ben Franklin Elementary in Menomonee Falls.

Her classroom robot, Dash, is also doing a happy dance. All year, her students shared the robot which teaches them how to code. 

Mrs. Waldoch asked for more robots through a site called DonorsChoose, similar to GoFundMe but for education.

"I saw that it was funded, and I was so excited," said Mrs. Waldoch.

On Valentine's Day, Herb Kohl Philanthropies fully funded her grants and did the same for many other teachers in Wisconsin. 

Herb Kohl Philanthropies sent out the following announcement: 

“For all the love and care teachers bring to their profession and classrooms every day, this is hopefully a meaningful way to show them how much we care too.” said Herb Kohl. “Teachers humbly and resourcefully go the extra mile for their students. I am inspired by their actions which help bring equity to Wisconsin’s classrooms. While these efforts are priceless, the materials cost money – money teachers should not spend out of their own pockets.” Kohl added.


"We so appreciate the generosity of Herb Kohl Philanthropies, and their efforts to spread love to teachers across the state with this special surprise," said Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org. "We know this support will be greatly appreciated by the hard-working, innovative Wisconsin teachers who bring learning to life for their students each day."


On Friday morning, a “You just got funded” message will land in the inboxes of 755 teachers in 424 schools impacting 84,771 students, letting teachers know how much Herb Kohl values their dedication, innovation and inspiration.

"Herb Kohl is obviously my guardian angel this week."

For Choir Director at Lance Middle School in Kenosha, Mrs. Gentile knows her choir-room chairs aren't helping her students hit any high notes.

"Kind of an array of folding chairs, different sizes, and quite old," said Mrs. Gentile.

Herb Kohl Philanthropies also funded her grant through DonorsChoose.

"Valentine's Day morning, I was in line at Starbucks, and my email beeped and I opened it and it said our DonorsChoose Project was funded."

She'll now be able to buy special chairs that help singers with posture.

"This is literally going to be supporting my students-- the chairs under them."

Altogether, Herb Kohl Philanthropies funded 924 projects on Valentine's Day, totaling more than $507,000.

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