Panda Express has partnered with the DonorsChoose educational nonprofit to support teachers through the restaurant’s curriculum program “Let’s Explore!: Lunar New Year”. The program gives teachers a chance to teach students about the history and traditions of the celebration.
The partnership reflects both organizations’ goal to improve students’ cultural awareness, especially for young children, as it helps develop a positive sense of identity. Panda Express has pledged up to $100,000 to help teachers access resources and will double donations matched to support donors.
“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, Panda Express’ chief brand officer.
“Nearly 15 years ago, Panda launched the ‘Let’s 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,” said Cherng. “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.”
“Let’s Explore!: Lunar New Year” is designed for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students and works in classrooms and virtual learning settings.
The program — which runs annually in tandem with the Lunar New Year season — opened last November and runs through Feb. 21, 2023.
It’s a repeat from last year’s program, which attracted more than 3,100 teachers across 28 states, reaching nearly 300,000 children.
However, this is the first year the program has partnered with DonorsChoose. It will help target schools in local Panda Express communities and Equity Focus Schools, where most students live in low-income households and come from Native American, Black, or Latino families.
DonorsChoose and Panda Express believe the annual event acknowledges the cultural significance of one of the biggest yearly events in the world — an event that focuses on togetherness and community.
In addition, students will learn about the holiday’s beginnings, the meanings of the lucky foods eaten during its 15 days, and why red envelopes and red lanterns are used during this time. Each participant will receive a Lunar New Year activity booklet.
“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, DonorsChoose CEO. “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.”