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Cryptocurrency startup Ripple donated $29 million of its own digital currency XRP to support U.S. public schools, the company announced Wednesday.
The donation, which Ripple said is the largest-ever cryptocurrency gift to a single charity, fulfilled thousands of requests from public school teachers on the crowdfunding site DonorsChoose.org. The money will be used to buy classroom materials for more than 28,000 public school teachers across all 50 states, the company said in a statement.
Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org, said he approached Ripple based on CEO Brad Garlinghouse's previous involvement with the foundation. He sent Ripple executives an email laying out the possible impact of fulfilling the teachers' requests.
"To my own shock, they said yes," said Best, who founded the charity 18 years ago. "It was mind-blowing that it would be the largest donation of cryptocurrency."
Ripple is officially the name of a San Francisco-based company developing a network for faster global financial payments. XRP is the name of the digital token that financial institutions on the network can use to transact quickly.
Ripple owns about 60 billion of the 100 billion XRP ever made, bringing its market cap based Wednesdays prices and its holdings alone close to $34.8 billion.
This is the biggest effort so far by the company to formalize a social good program, according to Monica Long, senior vice president of marketing. But she said to expect more, and a focus on education from the fintech company.
Ripple's XRP coin, the third-largest digital currency by market cap, traded near 58 cents as of 2:40 p.m. ET Wednesday, according to CoinMarketCap. The cryptocurrency is down more than 70 percent this year. All of the top 10 digital currencies by market cap have also fallen so far this year.
DonorsChoose.org agreed to liquidate the cryptocurrency into U.S. dollars over two weeks, according to Long, in the process trying to avoid affecting its market price. The charity's policy, which also applies to donated shares of a company, is to sell right away.
Ripple executives are not the first in the crypto community to use digital currency for philanthropy.
In December, as bitcoin was near its all-time high above $19,000, an anonymous donor set up an organization called Pineapple Fund to give away more than 5,000 bitcoin to various charities. The donor said he or she would distribute $86 million worth of bitcoin to those who applied through the site.