The Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a leading charitable organization of the entertainment industry, today announced Think It Up, EIF’s upcoming national education initiative.

Think It Up seeks to inaugurate a new movement in support of the nation’s young people, teachers and schools, helping create a culture of excitement about learning everywhere in America and building a sense of optimism about the changes underway in classrooms across the country.

EIF will launch thinkitup.org, a first-of-its-kind platform to fund student-powered, teacher-led learning projects in partnership with DonorsChoose.org, the popular teacher crowdfunding charity. Since 2000, individuals have been able to contribute toward the purchase of materials needed for classroom projects that teachers post on DonorsChoose.org. Beginning this fall, Think It Up will invite public middle and high school students to work with their teachers to develop projects that draw on their passions and help pursue their educational goals, which the public can crowdfund through thinkitup.org.

In addition to aggregating funds from citizen donors, thinkitup.org will make it possible for major donors, such as corporations, philanthropists and foundations, to match some of the public’s contributions. Staples is on board as a lead corporate donor, and other major supporters will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Think It Up initiative will endeavor to empower students and their teachers to collaborate on projects that both harness students’ passions and apply what they are learning to address real-world problems, generate new ideas or make a difference. These projects will entail rigorous skill development that prepares American youth for post-high school life, helping pave the way for career success regardless of the path taken — through college, technical training, or work experience.

“Today’s classrooms too often lack the resources and other support necessary for American students to become dynamic learners and problem-solvers who are prepared for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century,” said Lisa Paulsen, president and chief executive officer of the Entertainment Industry Foundation. “Our hope is that by creating opportunities to unlock their passions, talents, and strengths, Think It Up will help students, working together with their teachers, to forge lasting connections between their learning experiences now and the futures they shape for themselves. And while this is a national initiative, we’ll have an impact at the local level all over the country, as donors can support projects at schools in their communities.”

Think It Up will work with students and teachers to track the impact of these projects on learning, providing essential transparency for members of the public who support projects through the initiative, as well as major donors.

DonorsChoose.org Founder and CEO Charles Best noted, “For fifteen years, DonorsChoose.org has galvanized communities to support nearly a quarter-million public school teachers across the country, raising over $330 million for classroom resources and experiences. Our collaboration with the Entertainment Industry Foundation on Think It Up marks our first-ever expansion, empowering students to join their teachers in building their own classroom experiences. This is an exciting moment for our team, and the thousands of classrooms we serve.”

“Staples is building on our decades-long support of teachers, students and education by joining the Entertainment Industry Foundation on its new Think It Up initiative as a founding corporate donor,” said Alison Corcoran, senior vice president, North American stores and online, Staples. “Think It Up will empower students and teachers to build new and exciting learning opportunities in the classroom and Staples is excited to help make more happen in classrooms throughout America.”

For Think It Up, the Entertainment Industry Foundation is forming an Education Advisory Committee, comprising experts, leaders and advocates with impeccable credentials from diverse areas of the education field. Current members of the Committee have created criteria for the student-powered, teacher-led projects that are designed to ensure that those receiving funding facilitate meaningful learning for the students involved. The Committee will work with EIF’s Board of Directors to advise on and help oversee the Think It Up grants program. Additional support will be provided by an Honorary National Advisory Council with two segments, one including leaders from entertainment and media, and the other, the education, non-profit and philanthropy worlds.

“Think It Up is an incredible opportunity to make a real difference right now for the tremendous students and teachers in our communities,” said Creative Artists Agency’s President Richard Lovett, chair of the entertainment industry’s leadership committee for EIF’s Think It Up national education initiative and a member of the DonorsChoose.org Board of Directors.

The multi-platform initiative will target students where they “live” through a robust social and digital media strategy. Additionally, Think It Up will engage celebrities to help generate excitement about learning. National public awareness campaigns featuring celebrity ambassadors will run across all media platforms, including print, broadcast, digital, out-of-home (e.g., billboards) and radio. A series of local events with students and teachers will be held in communities across the country, highlighting inspiring stories of successful teacher-student collaborations.

By helping create a culture that values learning by supporting meaningful educational experiences between students and teachers, inspiring students to pursue their passions and activating teachers’ calling to help all their students succeed, Think It Up hopes to generate a renewed sense of optimism about education in America.

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