The American Chinese Trailblazer will match all donations that fund teachers’ Lunar New Year projects, up to $100,000, to provide the resources needed to bring the rich history and traditions of the holiday to life
ROSEMEAD, Calif., December 13, 2022 – Today, Panda Express®, the largest family-owned and operated Asian dining concept in the U.S., launches the first nationwide Lunar New Year Classroom Initiative in partnership with educational nonprofit DonorsChoose. Inspired by Panda’s free cultural curriculum “Let’s Explore!: Lunar New Year” for educators, the American Chinese restaurant brand and DonorsChoose have created a 2x donation match program to support teacher project requests dedicated to Lunar New Year celebrations on the DonorsChoose platform. Panda Express is pledging up to $100,000 to help teachers get their hands-on resources, kits and materials needed to bring lessons about the vibrant holiday to life for students. Starting December 13th, Panda invites everyone to visit the Panda Express x DonorsChoose Lunar New Year Classroom Initiative at DonorsChoose.org/pandaexpress, where they can donate directly to a classroom of their choice based on city, state and zip code.
“Lunar New Year is one of the most exciting times of the year in Asian culture, and every year, it presents an opportunity for us at Panda to create meaningful conversations around the holiday with our guests, associates, friends and families,” said Andrea Cherng, Chief Brand Officer at Panda Express. “Nearly fifteen years ago, Panda launched the ‘Lets Explore!: Lunar New Year’ curriculum to spark cultural curiosity in our local communities, and it’s grown to become such a valuable resource for educators all over the country. We’re thrilled to be partnering with DonorsChoose, inviting donors to help amplify this important initiative and foster cultural appreciation and inclusivity within our younger generations inside and outside the classroom.”
Studies* show that cultural awareness plays an important role in helping young children develop a positive sense of identity and builds self-esteem. By bringing Lunar New Year celebrations to classrooms nationwide, Panda Express and DonorsChoose are not only deepening multicultural education for today’s youth but also acknowledging the cultural significance of one of the world’s most celebrated holidays centered around universal values of community and togetherness. This partnership marks the first Lunar New Year Campaign in the history of DonorsChoose, and while the campaign is open to all teachers nationwide, special efforts will be made to target schools in Panda’s local communities and Equity Focus Schools, where the majority of students are Black, Latino, or Native American and where the majority of students come from low-income households.
"Teaching about Lunar New Year encourages our students to appreciate their own cultures or cultures that may be different from their own," said Alix Guerrier, CEO of DonorsChoose. "Panda Express is providing educators with resources that make for a festive celebration of the Lunar New Year and for inspiring cultural learning in the classroom."
First developed by Panda Express in 2008, the “Let’s Explore!: Lunar New Year” program removes common barriers to cultural learning by providing a simple and authentic way for educators to honor the unique traditions and stories of Lunar New Year in their classrooms. Panda’s “Let’s Explore!: Lunar New Year” program is a free interactive curriculum that any educator can sign up for at community.pandaexpress.com/lets-explore-lny. In 2022 alone, more than 3,140 teachers and nearly 300,000 students across 28 states participated in the program.
Designed for in-classroom and distance learning for students grade Pre-K through 5th, the “Let’s Explore!: Lunar New Year” program features eight interactive activities that delve into the key components of Lunar New Year celebrations, including the origin of the holiday, the meaning behind lucky foods eaten during the 15-day long celebration, the symbolism of lucky red envelopes and red lanterns, and more. Special Lunar New Year activity booklets will be sent out to participating classrooms and youth serving organizations.
To learn more about how you can support the Panda Express x DonorsChoose Lunar New Year Classroom Initiative visit DonorsChoose.org/pandaexpress, and to sign up for Panda’s “Let’s Explore!: Lunar New Year” free interactive curriculum, visit community.pandaexpress.com/lets-explore-lny.
*Sources: Science Daily, The Early Childhood Team of Nebraska Extension
About Panda Express®
On a mission to inspire better lives, Panda Express® is the largest Asian dining concept in the US. Family-owned and operated since 1983 by Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Andrew and Peggy Cherng, Panda Express is best known as a trailblazer for creating a wide variety of industry-first recipes, including its best seller the Original Orange Chicken® and award-winning Honey Walnut Shrimp™, which have defined the category of authentic American Chinese cuisine. Each dish at Panda Express is thoughtfully crafted with quality ingredients and inspired by bold Chinese flavors and culinary principles. The restaurant brand has more than 2,500 locations and has introduced American Chinese cuisine to12 international countries.
Powered by a global family of associates, Panda Cares®, Panda's philanthropic arm, has raised more than $282 million and has dedicated countless volunteer hours in bettering the health and education for over 13 million youth, as well as supporting communities in need since 1999. In 2021, Panda Express established the Panda CommUnity Fund — a five-year, $10 million community investment and response program that supports immediate and sustainable solutions from national and local organizations to uplift diverse groups, including people of color and other marginalized communities. For more information about Panda, visit pandaexpress.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
DonorsChoose is the leading way to give to public schools. Since 2000, 5.6 million people and partners have contributed $1.3 billion to support over 2 million teacher requests for classroom resources and experiences. As the most trusted crowdfunding platform for teachers, donors, and district administrators alike, DonorsChoose vets each request, ships the funded resources directly to the classroom, and provides thank yous and reporting to donors and school leaders. Charity Navigator and GuideStar have awarded DonorsChoose, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, their highest ratings for transparency and accountability. For more information, visit www.donorschoose.org.