January 29, 2018 | Katie Rogina
Teachers across the US regularly spend their own money to buy school supplies for their classrooms. In 2016, Scholastic conducted a national survey and found that teachers spend $530 on average of their own money annually on school supplies. Teachers at high-poverty schools spend $672 on average.
In December 2017, the US House and Senate debated about whether to increase or cut funding for teachers. The Senate wanted to increase funding to $500, but the House wanted to cut funding altogether. The end result was a compromise… teachers will still be limited at only $250 for reimbursements per year.
With inconsistent reimbursement policies and continued increases in the cost of teaching supplies, learning tools, and manipulatives, more teachers are turning to alternative funding resources. Educators don’t have to break the bank when looking for ways to bring innovation to the classroom. We gathered five resources that teachers can utilize to buy the classroom materials they need for students to succeed.
Active Learning Center Grant
The Active Learning Center Grant is an awesome grant opportunity. Not only is it important that teachers have the right teaching supplies, but it is also essential that they can give students a good learning environment. With the Active Learning Center (ALC) Grant, teachers can build an entirely new classroom for up to 30 students. The total award is $67,000, and any teacher in grades 6-12 or in universities in the United States, U.S. Territories, Puerto Rico, Canada or Mexico are eligible to win. Up to 16 grants are awarded every year.
The cool thing about this grant is that teachers get to choose from four different classroom redesign concepts, customizing to their individual needs. The ALC website also includes grant proposal guides which simplify the process of applying.
Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and Indiegogo have changed the way businesses raise money and are now helping teachers reach their fundraising goals. Also, sites dedicated specifically to education fundraising are becoming popular resources of fundraising.
DonorsChoose is one site where teachers in pre-K through 12th grade can post fundraising projects for specific items. Teachers list what goals they hope to accomplish with school supplies and allow the public to contribute towards their fundraising goals.
One of the best parts about this site is that teachers of any subject can start fundraising campaigns by submitting an application to be listed on the site. Once projects are approved and fundraising goals are met, DonorsChoose buys supplies on the teacher’s behalf and ships the supplies to them.
DonorsChoose has made fundraising possible for over 600,000 classroom projects. Requests have included everything from butterfly cocoons, to robotics kits. Almost 3 million donors have contributed over $627 million in classroom project funding.
Social Media Page or Group
Teachers can also start fundraising campaigns through social media. Facebook is a good platform for raising money for school supplies. The best part about Facebook is that users can easily create pages for their own community and invite their friends. Here are a few ways social media groups can help teachers meet fundraising goals:
- Fundraising efforts through social media are more typically more local and personable, so donors can easily see the tangible results of their donations.
- Unlike traditional grant programs, social media groups don’t require complex grant writing or long wait times to receive funding.
- Teachers can create community events. Bake sales, car washes, or any other single day event that can potentially help teachers meet their fundraising goals.
GrantWatch is a good resource for finding all sorts of grants, including some that support STEM teachers. The best part about this site is that it doesn’t just include national grants. It also includes information about how to apply to local and state level grants. These grants are often less competitive and awards are large enough to meet the needs of educators.
This website is a good resource compared to other grant listing sites, because all grants listed are up-to-date. That means no more searching endlessly just to find a grant opportunity where the submission deadline has already passed.
While an annual membership account to view grants’ specific details does cost $200, basic details like eligible state(s) are viewable without having to sign up. Plus, several grants listed are $10,000 in value. If a teacher or school signs up for membership and wins a large grant, GrantWatch can be well worth the investment.
Several corporations offer funding opportunities for K-12 classrooms. Researching the internet to find the best companies to reach out to is a good idea. Also, lots of corporations have their own grant competitions. One example is Honda’s philanthropic organization, the American Honda Foundation. It is well known for supporting educators across the US.
According to Honda’s website, “more than $37 million have been awarded to organizations serving over 117 million people in every state in the U.S.” Grants are valued at $20,000 to $75,000 over a one-year period, and 27 grants are awarded annually.
February 1 and August 1 are the deadlines each year for schools that have not received a Honda grant in the past ten years. May 1 is the deadline for returning organizations only (those funded at least once in the last 10 years).
Getting Resources for Your Students is Possible!
While raising funds might seem like a daunting task, there are a lot of opportunities out there for teachers to get the supplies they need. Educators shouldn’t have to worry about spending their own money just to make their classrooms better, especially if most of the funds spent are no longer tax deductible. Luckily, the number of funding resources is increasing, and so is accessibility to these resources.