Classroom Supplies and Tools / Mar 25, 2021

How to Get Free Classroom Supplies for your Next Classroom Project

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As you may be well-familiar with, teachers spend an average of $479 of their own hard-earned money every year from their “abundant” paychecks on much-needed classroom supplies. That’s a problem! It’s not at all hopeless because teachers are resilient and resourceful, and help is out there. In this article, we’ll explore several ways to get classroom funding that exist to assist you in getting some much-deserved free classroom supplies. Read to learn more!

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Easily Find Ways to Classroom Funding for Free Classroom Supplies

It’s true; the classroom funding is indeed out there. And it’s easier than you think to find. It helps with that “let me just reach into my wallet” motion every time you need googly eyes, disinfecting wipes, or an EdTech classroom subscription (we’re looking at YOU).

Here are some funding options that exist to help you get the free classroom supplies you need:

  • School-Based Fundraisers
  • ClassTag Wish List
  • Grants & Foundations
  • Community-Based Fundraisers

Getting supplies with School-Based Fundraisers

School fundraisers come in several shapes, sizes, and flavors! You’ve got traditional fundraisers that are pretty fun for students and teachers, but many do require effort, preparation, and time. Nonetheless, they get the job done! 

If you’re looking for a simple, quick, and convenient go-to in securing funds for your much-needed classroom supplies, then utilizing something like ClassTag Wish Lists is a definite.

Traditional Fundraisers for getting Free Classroom Supplies

Traditional school fundraisers have always been great standards in helping to raise money for the free classroom supplies you need. Here are a couple of traditional school-based fundraisers:

  • Hold a “candy gram” sale centered around dances and holidays where students and staff purchase grams to write and send others special notes accompanied by candy.  
  • Raise money by setting up a student-manned snack stand during school events such as sports games, back-to-school nights, and dances. 
  • Hold a competition such as a “Rock Paper Scissors tournament where students pay a small fee to compete and earn bragging rights upon the win. 
  • Selling family-favorite snacks such as popcorn and candy bars are also a good way to raise funds.

Using the Power of the Parent Community with ClassTag Wish Lists

In addition to tradition, utilizing all that ClassTag Wish Lists have to offer can get you class supply funding in just a few mouse clicks.

Wish Lists allow teachers to curate a list of supplies they would like to purchase through ClassTag. When you create and share your own with parents and your community, you’ll experience their support as they view your list and give any amount they’d like. Then, those funds become available immediately for you to purchase your desired items! It’s super fast and simple to get contributions toward those much-needed free classroom supplies for engaging learning experiences.

Here’s how to set up and share your Wish List in merely no time at all:

SET UP CLASSTAG WISH LISTS IN 3-STEPS 

STEP 1: Open the ClassTag app. If you need to download the app, follow the simple account setup prompts and then move on to Step 2!

STEP 2: Click the three lines on the upper left side, then click “Rewards”.

STEP 3: Select a category, then browse and select items by clicking “Add to Wish List”.

 

SHARE CLASSTAG WISH LISTS IN 3-STEPS 

STEP 1: Click the three lines on the upper left side, then click “Supplies”.

STEP 2: Scroll to the bottom and click “Share Wish List”.

STEP 3: Choose your sharing options.

And… you’re done! It is that simple to be fast on your way to getting the resources you and your learners deserve for engaging lessons.

 

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Community-based Fundraisers for Free Classroom Supplies

Reaching out to your school’s local community is an exceptional way to gather support for the resources you and your students need.

Here are a few ideas for you to consider for your community-driven fundraiser:

  1. Car Wash
  2. Restaurant Collaboration
  3. Talent Show + Bake Sale
  4. School Community Carnival + Cook-Off

Car Wash

Enlist your students to volunteer their time and consider giving them extra credit to participate. While some may initially do so strictly for the bonus points, they’ll inadvertently, end up building community with one another and with their local neighbors (#teacherwin). 

Ask wash goers for a flat amount, or choose to ask for donations in any amount as the second one usually gets you more than you bargained for in the first place! Either way, your customers will get a quick, soapy, and shiny car wash in exchange for supporting your school supply needs.

Restaurant Collaborations

Something that remains constant with people is… they eat. So, how about giving folks the option to take their next meal and make it a good cause? Many chain restaurants in your school’s local area will gladly collaborate with you to host a school fundraising night/week. Additionally, chain restaurants will give you a percentage to use for your class resource needs. 

Here are 5 popular kid-friendly restaurants that have school fundraiser collaborations:

Strength does exist in numbers, so partner with a few fellow teachers- all of the staff- and get even more promotional power to obtain funds toward your collective class supplies.

Talent Show + Bake Sale

You know, your entire school could host a talent show, charge for admission, and use the funds to help provide your campus with resources. You could also hold a separate bake sale and collect some cash off of those cupcakes and cookies to get your students’ supplies. 

Or, better yet, how about combining them both and have a community talent show displaying your school’s musical, acting, and dancing abilities and offer tasty treats for sale during intermission? This combination creates a space for everyone to participate. Combinations like these are the best, aren’t they?

School Community Carnival + Cook-Off

Who doesn’t love a carnival? Who doesn’t love a cook-off? Blend the two, and you’ll raise lots of supply dollars, as well as a sense of community, for the entire school! What a fantastic way to get the school and neighboring community involved, engaged, and contributing – together. 

But between the carnival entrance ticket and cook-off, there are so many additional opportunities to raise resource funds. A guaranteed hit involves teachers and administration in silly situations such as a dunk tank or pie-in-the-face throwing competition. Charge carnival-goers to try their hand at sinking or soiling the staff and watch both the hilarity and dollars rise. 

Additionally, try creating additional options for attendees, such as selling student-designed t-shirts and school community recipe/cookbooks. As far as the cook-off is concerned, hold a contest for the best chili, spaghetti, or burrito and charge tasters a small fee to sample the goods. The carnival will be sure to create connections, and best, your school and classroom will end up with lots of funds!

Public, Private, and Foundation Grant Resources to Get Free Classroom Supplies

Notable Public and Private Grant Resources

After searching with specificity, you’ll find sites such as  GetEdFunding.com,  a great overall resource for teachers seeking public and private grants for most any education-related need, including classroom supplies. GetEdFunding hosts numerous education grants, including public and private Pre-K–12 school and district funding opportunities. What’s great about this site is that you can personalize your grant searches by focus areas, 21st-century skills, and grade levels.

Another good grant housing search site you may encounter is GRANTS.GOV. On this site, teachers can get very specific in their search for classroom resource funding. It’s best to select the appropriate category, “Education,” and then enter keywords “classroom supplies” to get targeted results and review the grant opportunities to help fund your class supply needs.

Next, more targeted grant opportunities exist with Walmart’s Local Community Grants giving grants ranging from $250 to $5,000 through each of their facilities to K-12 public or nonprofit private schools. 

Grants for STEM Supplies

There’s also Voya Unsung Heroes where teachers can apply for grants to obtain supplies for “effective and innovative projects that improve student learning.”

Also, with ever-increasing, and not to mention, ever-shifting, classroom technology needs, Educators of America’s MicroGrant Program for Educators & Teachers encourages teachers to apply for the biannual grant that strives to not only provide funds for needed class technology supplies but also trains them to use it in the most effective ways possible. 

Finally, SCJohnson Grants are available for educators who need supplies to “ensure quality and inclusive education through literacy initiatives, early childhood intervention, or programs that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).”

Notable Foundation Grants

As you may know, some great foundations exist for the enhancement of education. First, the NEA Foundation is a public charity founded by educators to improve public education for all students. The NEA Foundation Student Achievement Grants section of the site hosts relevant grants for educators seeking funding for their education-based needs, including resource materials, supplies, equipment, and technology. 

In looking at the FAQs, be sure that in your application to articulate that the proposed work and related materials center on students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 

A couple more notable foundations are the Annenberg Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In addition to funding  $10,000 to $250,000 for large-scale projects designed to improve education, the Annenberg Foundation offers free educational materials for classrooms. Meanwhile, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation “Thriving Children” grant portion declares they “support a healthy start and quality learning experiences for all children.

Grant Writing Tips for Getting Free Classroom Supplies

As a process, grant writing may seem intimidating upon first thought, but with guidance and the end goal in mind, you’ll be well on your way to receiving funds to help you get your free classroom supplies. 

The following grant writing tips will help you develop effective and efficient proposals.

1. Prepare

Successful grant writing can indeed take a considerable amount of time, so preparation is of the essence. Prepare by notating a quick summary of your ideas for each section of your proposal before beginning your actual writing. 

Look for information about the funder’s mission, grant award amount, special rules, etc., and ensure that your submission is aligned. Most importantly, read the application and guidelines very carefully, taking special note of what is vital to grantors.

2. Research Previous Winner Submissions

Don’t reinvent the wheel, but also don’t duplicate it. Investigate previous grant recipient proposals to learn from their success. Observe what they included in theirs that you can glean from and mirror it to a certain degree, of course. When you write your proposal, use similar tactics, and be sure to make your own.

3. Proposal Elements

In your proposal, consider the following 5 elements.

  1. Introduction: Describe your school or classroom
  2. Project Description: As it relates to classroom resources, include your project goal and solution, what you hope to achieve, funding level sought, and identify your school or classroom population.
  3. Needs: Explain your need for class supplies.
  4. Project Plan and Activities: Describe the plans and activities involving the supplies
  5. Budget: Specify what specific supplies the funds will be spent on 

4. Keep it Simple

As you write, remember that it’s a grant proposal, not a novel. While it’s essential to follow the grantor’s instructions, you don’t want them to request Cliff’s Note version.  Keeping your proposal simple begins with the abstract or objective, a two- or three-sentence summary of the project, and then a bulleted list of the program’s specifics. 

5. Avoid Ambiguity and Be Thorough 

While you don’t want to drag on, you also don’t want to be ambiguous with your request. Strong applications are detailed and clear about why the project is important and how the learning experience will be enhanced as you request funding for essential supplies. Also, your application will be the only tool you have to convince the selection committee. Therefore, take the time to be as thorough as possible about why your project deserves its funding.

6. Include a Reasonable and Detailed Budget

Prepare a detailed budget that anyone can understand upon reading. Be sure it’s specific, reasonable, realistic, accurate, and flexible. Also, don’t request more than what’s being offered. Do this and many readers scoring the application will deem it as disqualified indicating that you did not meet the grant guidelines.

7. Data Counts

Research and identify data that will help you build a strong case for your need for classroom supplies. There are numerous education-related data banks available online, as well as the data available through your school district. Utilize both. Providing statistics helps you build a compelling case for why you need funding.

8. Get a Second Set of Eyes 

You may think your proposal is the absolute best, but the funder may think otherwise. So, once you’ve finished your first draft,  get a second (and even third) set of eyes to read it. Ask a colleague, your district’s grant coordinator, or a friend who isn’t in education. Should they encounter any weak sections, make the necessary changes to add strength, and then ask that they re-read it once more.

9. Deliver What You Promised

If you get the grant, keep in mind that it’s a contract. The funds must be spent on class supplies, as you indicated in the application. Periodic updates and final reports are usually required, be sure you provide an accurate and honest account of the project activities and how the money was spent.

10. Thank the Funder

Whether you receive a grant or not, always write a thank you note. Doing this demonstrates your “good sportsmanship.” It may also keep your name and school/district in the grantor’s minds should you decide to apply again in the future.

In Summary

Getting contributions toward class supplies doesn’t have to be a struggle and shouldn’t cause any teacher personal financial stress. 

So, whether you opt for applying for and securing grants, holding a community-based talent show fully stocked with baked goods, or utilizing ClassTag’s simple Wish Lists, you can allow your wallet a bit more resting time and still get the supplies you and your students deserve!

click to Create Wish Lists and get Free Classroom Supplies

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