But as school budgets continue to tighten, that figure could escalate, says James Rosenberg, president and founder of Adopt-A-Classroom, which has raised $10 million for supplies for 20,000 classrooms in all 50 states during the past decade.
Rather than reaching deeper into your own pockets, here are some grassroots tips from creative educators for getting free supplies despite budget cuts, and leads to organizations that help teachers get the goods they need.
Don’t Buy What’s Free
Look into these strategies for obtaining free materials:
- Recycling. Jennifer Volpe, a former speech pathologist at Cobble Hill High School, in Brooklyn, New York, recommends a nonprofit recycling site called Freecycle, where people from all over the world post books, CDs, electronics, and toys they’re giving away. “The only catch is that you have to arrange to pick up the items,” says Volpe.
- Free shopping spree. Teachers at schools in which at least 60 percent of students qualify for free lunch can take part in a monthly shopping spree at resource centers such as A Gift for Teaching, in Orlando, Florida, which gets many of its new supplies donated as surplus from businesses. For teachers at schools where 70 percent of the population qualifies for free lunch, the Kids in Need Foundation has built a network of 25 free school-supply resource centers around the country. Other local associations that gather and distribute free supplies include the Teacher Resource Center of the North Bay, in Napa County, California, Schoolhouse Supplies in Portland, Oregon, and the Teacher Supply Depot in Knoxville, Tennessee.
- Try an online group. Join a Yahoo Group or a Google Group in your community and post a request for the supplies you need.