Back-to-school season is in full swing. School donations are coming in but more are desperately needed!
Stories about individual and corporate generosity have been popping up for several weeks now. Companies are offering free access to their products. Community are collecting school donations and supplies for children in need. And volunteers and helping to spruce up classroom or playgrounds.
Target and Staples: School Donations
Once again this year Staples funded the balance of every college and career prep project and every middle school and high school literacy project listed on DonorsChoose.org in Chicago. With schools donations of $134,733, Staples helped 106 teachers make more happen in local classrooms, impacting more than 13,000 students across 86 schools in the community. The Staples’ donation is part of its Staples for Students program featuring Katy Perry. Staples has once again donated $1 million to DonorsChoose.org and conducted similar flash funding school donations in Dallas, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. so far this summer.
Target is another major supporter of schools. Target has donated $418 million to local K-12 schools since 1997 through Take Charge of Education (TCOE). The program lets customers designate 1% of their REDcard purchases to a K-12 school of their choice to fund whatever the school needs most. In 2015, more than 84,000 schools received a TCOE check, totaling more than $31 million in TCOE donations for the year. When I lived in Virginia, several of the local grocery chains operated similar programs. It’s such an easy, painless way to direct a little extra money to a local school.
Target also has a grant program dedicated to funding field trips. When the schools began to feel the effects of the recession back in 2008, one of the first things to be cut was support for field trips. The Target Field Trip Grants program is a no-strings-attached initiative that funds field trips for students nationwide. Schools can use the funds to cover field trip-related costs such as transportation, ticket fees, food, resource materials and supplies. Target is accepting applications through October 1. They will award over 3,600 grants of up to $700 each in January 2017. Applicants across the United States can apply.
Countless other organizations and companies make similar school donations or spearhead community campaigns to benefit local students and schools. The instructional materials and ed tech industries do their fair share and with the ability to deliver digital resources, even relatively small companies can reach out nationally, since distributions costs are negligible. Free trial periods, lesson plans and other digital resources help add variety to opening days.
All this generosity is a wonder, but it is unconscionable to think that so many classrooms lack basic resources. The need is often greatest at schools where parents are really not able to do much to help. Teachers do their share. The Education Market Association reports that an estimated 99.5% of all public school teachers use their own money to equip their classrooms – frequently at a cost of more than $400 per year.
While teachers make a wide variety of requests on sites like DonorsChoose, it’s surprising how often they are seeking support for what I think of a basic classroom supplies – colored pencils and pens for art projects, notebooks and journals for student writing, books for a classroom library. Now think about the supplies needed for hands-on science projects or for making, to say nothing about technology resources.
Corporations and individuals of means really need to do better.