In this economy, everyone’s belt tightening. Education’s been squeezed to a choking point, with teachers getting creative to find resources for students.
In 2007, teachers’ out-of-pocket expenses totaled $1,7 billion a year. Nationally, the the average teacher spends around $500 out of pocket annually. An American Federation of Teachers survey found that out of 4,618 teachers, first-year teachers personally spent about $700 for students’ school supplies.
Any other employee in a company doesn’t do that, says Jerry Hall, Executive Director of iLoveSchools.com, which matches teachers, schools and school districts with individual, group and corporate donors.
iLoveSchools.com - an excellent resource for classrooms
They’re the only national website that handles new, used & in-kind stuff, he says. “In-kind” means anything a teacher wants – from a speaker for their class to business services.
iLoveSchools serves any place that teaches kids, running the gamut from pre-school, K-12, public, private, charter or home schools, even juvenile halls and detention centers. Similar organizations only serve public schools.
To match donors and “stuff”, teachers, schools and/or districts register online. So far over 35,000 teachers across the country have registered.
Next they build a Wish List on the website for whatever’s wanted and needed at BuildaWishList. Teachers have the option to shop iLoveSchools’ catalog which currently has over 150,000 educational products, with more coming soon. If they find things they want, they add to their Wish List. If not, they can build a custom Wish List where they can request new and gently-used items or in-kind services. These can include anything from money for a field trip to business services. They’ll then receive a customized, unique web home page at a permanent iLoveSchools.com web address.
They also get widgets, banners, logos and text links to use to help promote their home page on their district’s website, in newsletters and in email announcements.
On the donor side, donors can sign up to “Become a Classroom Friend”, creating a webpage and posting why they want to help.
Central Elementary School benefits from generous donors
The Donor Offer Board lets donors post things they want to give. The posts end up resembling craigslist ads, covering things like business equipment that’s cycled out every few years but still in good condition or time they can give.
Donors wanting a more “hands-on” feel can go to their search engine and narrow their search down to specific school districts and special criteria schools and/or teachers must meet. Donors can look up teachers online and contact them directly.They can direct their giving to the type of teacher they want to serve while teachers can log in and see things that they’re specifically qualified for.
“People want to have control of where their donation goes,” said Hall, “and how much the non-profit uses for administrative costs.” With iLoveSchools, they can spell it out.
This service is for individuals, small companies and large corporations who want to donate. Lexmark donated almost-new printers they were getting rid of. Last year, the Obama campaign donated office furniture and equipment. All these would otherwise have ended up in landfills.
“We want to challenge people to think of the different ways they can use our site,” said Hall. The PTA can have a free Wish List where teachers can register, then dole out things on an equitable basis. A district can register, then post donor offers, being “an internal sharing resource for the district,” he said. If a district’s well-off, they can offer things to a sister district that isn’t. Companies can use it to help show they support their local schools. It’s a win all around.
Hall believes there’s a lot of stuff consumers have that’s reusable by teachers. If we look, our garages and closets are full of them.
There are people all over the country right now that are asking for resources, he said.
Consider getting involved with this. It’s an easy way to make a real difference.
Filed under: Making a Difference | Tagged: economy, landfills | 1 Comment »