How do you address the lack of supplies and keep from digging in your own wallet for basic supplies?

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You don't? I read somewhere about a year ago that the average teacher supposedly spends $600/year on supplies in addtion to however little or much the school supplies them with. This might be becuase the indiviudual amounts are so small that the teacher's embarassed to ask to be paid back, or could be because the school won't pay the teacher back for something he/she considers necessary. Either way, if that statistic holds, it's a lot of money.
When I started teaching I asked around till I found a teacher that could help me. Some disticts have the money but require justification on its use and how it will benefit students. Also, there is often somebody in the school that applies for grants (particularly for low income schools). Find out who it is and ask about technology grants. Still, my best suggestion is to ask around; expecially the experienced teachers. They have the inside scoop and know how to get things done.

Good luck!
I know you may not be talking about the actual computers, but it is a passion of mine to get used computers to low-income students and families. We discard 100,000+ computers a day in the US, 95% of which don't get reused. Look at my site for one way to take old computers and turn them into "web toasters" that require no licensing or maintenance. I blog on this periodically as well at
Hmm, difficult. Look for resources such as recycling and other centers. Ask friends in business for donations. Try to make things more "paperless" (Web 2.0 is better for this). Get grants for equipment. I'm finding I'm spending less each year as I eschew worksheets, and use online resources more?
I find a good-hearted and deep-pocketed mentor for my school. Our district already has a network in place where people can come donate if they want, but I find that if I take the time to go to one person or one business, look them in the eye, explain the situtation of what I need for this one, or two, or 10 kids, they begin to see that I truly care, that what is going on is indeed honestly beneficial, and that they are truly doing good things (instead of them disconnectedly sending a check to *insert non-profit of your choice*).

I've had a pair of glasses bought for a kid whose parents wouldn't even go to to local agency designed for getting free glasses for kids. His parents are, well, we all know those parents, and this was simply easier. I made the compromise if the parents just went and got the eye check by a certain date, whatever glasses he wanted was his. I had to put the date stipulation on, or they'd never have done it, but faced with free money for NICE glasses, they had no other choice but to pay for the $25 dr. appointment. See, they used to buy him the "economy pairs" and he intentionally broke them when the other kids made fun of him, but the economy pairs are only what the agency would provide. So I fixed it by letting him get cool glasses. Easy enough.

One good mentor who knows you do GREAT things for kids and a little legwork proving so is all you need.
I'm pleased that someone launched a discussion about teaching low income students. I come from a business background, and have led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program, connecting inner city kids and workplace volunteers, since 1973.

Over 30 years I've come to understand that concentrated, inner-city poverty provides challenges to learning and teaching that is not common in higher income or more diverse communities. While most education reform focuses on teaching and curriculum, I feel that social and emotional, and critital thinking and aspiration building are equally important. Moreover, I feel that these habits and lessons can be fostered in non-school hours, in community based organizations, not just schools.

My commitment to elearning is an outgrowth of this. Since poverty isolates kids from experiences and a network of door-openers, I feel that if we can teach kids to use t he internet for learning, mentoring, collaboration and problem solving, we can connect them with peers and adults who can help them throughout their lives, just as they learn to help others.

You can read more about what I do at and

If you're willing to call around or show up face to face you can get a lot of stuff. I routinely get computers from local colleges as they upgrade. You build some relationships there and you end up getting calls when good stuff is available. Hitting up parents with key connections can work too if you've got a good relationship and can explain how you'll use the materials.

On a non computer level I've found lots of major chains have money and other supplies set aside if you ask. You might have to work out some PR recognition for them but it's nothing to heavy. Look for stores (like Sam's Club) that have certificates from schools recognizing their donations.

There are also a couple of websites that specialize in getting funding for particular teacher needs. You post the need and micro funders help you out. is a big one



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