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Saturday, August 13, 2011

7 Places to Get Free Supplies or Money for Your Classroom

As the new school year starts many of us will look around our classrooms and compile lists of things that we need or would like to have. And many of us will end up cracking into our personal bank accounts to get those things. (The fact that the IRS allows teachers to deduct up to $250 without receipts is indication enough that a lot teachers spend their own money for school supplies). Before you run off to Staples, do a little research and you just mind find that you can get some of the things you need without spending your own money. Here are some online resources you can try to get money and or supplies for your classroom this year.


Donors Choose is a non-profit organization with a mission of helping under-funded schools. Donors Choose uses the term "citizen philanthropy" to describe its program. Donors Choose essentially solicits funding from private citizens (and some corporations) which get to choose the projects they wish to fund. Donors can donate as much as they like to one or more projects. Donors Choose provides potential donors with information about the projects that need funding and the financial situation of the schools submitting requests. (Donations made through Donors Choose are tax deductible, but as always, check with your tax professional).

Classwish is a service through which teachers can find people willing to help purchase supplies for their classrooms. Classwish operates in a very similar manner to Donors Choose. On Classwish, teachers can create a wish list of supplies that they need for classrooms that aren't provided in their school budgets. People looking to help teachers can purchase products on a teacher's list and receive a tax deduction for their purchase.

iLoveSchools is a free service that helps teachers get supplies for their classrooms. iLoveSchools operates in a manner similar to that of Donors Choose and Class Wish. To get classroom supplies teachers register on iLove Schools and create a list of items that they would like to have for their classrooms. Donors then visit iLove School to choose a classroom to which they would like to donate supplies. A donor can contribute money toward purchasing the items a teacher has listed or a donor can contribute the actual items.


Giving Getting is a website whose goal is to help people exchange free material gifts. The process for using Giving Getting seems straight-forward. If you're in need of something, register and request it. Giving Getting will then try to match you with a donor that has that item to give.

Grant Gopher is a service that helps registered users find grants for just about any non-profit organization. The grant search engine is continuously updated to include new grant opportunities and remove expired grant opportunities. There is a free section of Grant Gopher and two "premium" subscription services offered by Grant Gopher. The free service offers access to the search engine, weekly newsletter about grant opportunities, and access to common application forms.


If you love free stuff as much as I love free stuff, check out Go To Freebie. On Go To Freebie you can find free samples of everything from bath and beauty supplies to toys and school supplies. Go To Freebie has forums and feedback to share experiences and tips about the freebies.


As they have for the last few years, Target is again awarding grants for school field trips. Applications for the grants close in 47 days from now. You can find all of the grant details and applications here. On the grant application page you can find a Field Trip Idea Generator. To find an idea, enter your state, city, and subject area. The Field Trip Idea Generator will give you ideas based on what past grant recipients in your area have done with the grant money.

Do you have a favorite place or strategy for getting supplies or money for your classroom? If so, please leave a comment. 

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