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Six Ways to Fund your Classroom

Updated on January 12, 2013

Fruit for the Pickin'!

these birds know where to go!
these birds know where to go!

After years of supplementing classroom supplies with money out of my own pocket, I am done. The wake-up call finally came the year that the principal told us that we had zero monies to fund classroom supplies either that year or the next. Every year I was paying for more...but now the state isn't going to contribute anything? I got so angry at the assumption that teachers were just going to buy the supplies. After a year of furloughs and now a 5% pay cut? After my husband's employment shrunk at the same rate as the faltering economy? I just couldn't do it anymore. The students, though, are the one's really getting mistreated and undervalued. Determined not to let that happen, and after encouragement from my husband (who is really tired of my classroom purchases), I got creative.

1. Write a Grant Request. Start with your State Department of Education Website. Do a search for "grants" and there is usually a dedicated webpage. Someone has already sifted through the big stuff already...and put the ones suitable for public schools here. Also, your union website usually has some competitive funding opportunities.

2. Local Credit Unions. Credit Unions that teachers are eligible for often have an annual opportunity to support local schools. Many times all that is needed is an innovative idea, a plan and a timeline to carry it out, and a breakdown of costs. An easy essay and an application puts you in the running.

3. Family and Friends. Believe it or not, many people are excited for the opportunity to help out. It is a donation on a local level. My mom bought a magnifying glass with a light for my student with special needs and poor vision. My mother-in-law bought several geometry tool kits on clearance and sent them over. Ask, and people are happy to contribute.

4. Other Teachers. This may not be monetary, but unused or like new supplies. After working in several schools, one thing that I do know is that there are closets and storerooms full of things that other people may benefit from. Many times, unfortunately, there is a hoarding mentality in schools, which often leads to complete waste. Good communication, the powers of observation, and a pleasant demeanor would help out greatly here.

5. School Librarian or Other Knowledgeable Person on Staff. In my school, it is the librarian. The one who seems to have a handle on the big picture of the school and district. It's a simple question "How do I find some classroom supplies, or the money to buy some?" She led me to a grant opportunity, a job opportunity, a retiring professional who wanted to make a gift, and the School Community Council.

6. The Principal. If the principal knows what you need and how badly you need it, he or she may come up with the funds to purchase it, or be able to connect you with resources. The squeaky, but organized, well thought out wheel gets the grease.

In all of these situations, having the students write thank you notes is not only polite, but a personal touch that others appreciate. The time and effort pays off with increased confidence, a classroom with much needed supplies, and a better school experience for both teacher and student!

On average, how much of your own money do you spend on your classroom each year?

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    • Lauhulu profile image

      Lauhulu 5 years ago from Hawaii, United States

      Thanks for the great idea Patrice!

    • Patrice M profile image

      Patrice M 5 years ago

      Great suggestions. Thank you for sharing. Add student supply lists and Donor's Choose to the list of funding sources.