(BPT) - Ask any public school teacher, and they'll tell you the same thing: There's never enough money in the school budget for everything they need, and they often reach into their own wallets to make up the difference. They're not talking about extras or nice-to-haves; often it's basic school supplies: paper, colored pencils, crayons, hand sanitizer, tissues, notebooks, art supplies and classroom furniture.
National Public Radio asked teachers how much, on average, they spend on supplies for their classrooms each year. The answers ranged from $350 to $2,500, with teachers in impoverished urban areas spending the most, often buying healthy snacks in addition to supplies for students who don't have food at home.
As teachers and their students return to school, BIC and DonorsChoose.org have partnered to make it easier for everyone to help teachers overcome this shortage of classroom essentials.
BIC has donated $100,000 to DonorsChoose.org, a crowdfunding website for public school teachers started by Charles Best, a former public school teacher in the Bronx. Teachers post classroom project requests and donors can pick projects they want to support. The nonprofit's team of 100 people, many former teachers, has fulfilled more than one million classroom project requests through the site.
Buy, Get, Give
This back to school season, BIC USA Inc. started a program called BIC Bucks for Teachers with the company’s donation of $100,000 to DonorsChoose.org. BIC isn't choosing the classroom projects that receive the donations: they are inviting you to. Here's how it works:
* Buy: Purchase $10 or more of BIC® stationery products (before taxes and coupons) at any major retailer from now through Sept. 15.
* Get: Snap a photo of your receipt. Upload it on BICBucksForTeachers.com by Sept. 30, 2018 and apply for a $10 BIC Bucks donation code, while supplies last.
* Give: Use your $10 donation code to support a classroom project of your choice on DonorsChoose.org.
Teachers from every corner of the U.S. have posted projects on the site.
One of those teachers is Donna Pitts, a sixth-grade teacher at May V. Carrigan Intermediate School in West Haven, Conn. Many of her students qualify for free or reduced lunch. She has used DonorsChoose.org to crowdfund everything from classroom tables to art supplies to software.
"In our district, funding is extremely limited, and access to resources is almost nonexistent," she says in her DonorsChoose.org profile. "I want my classroom to be a place where my students can comfortably learn, in a safe and exciting environment, but I also want to give them every opportunity possible to help them succeed."
Another teacher is Cassandra Johns, a seventh-grade teacher at West Broadway Middle School in Providence, R.I. She believes every student deserves the chance to be successful in school, no matter their economic background, which is why she created her current project on DonorsChoose.org to collect basic stationery supplies.
Through the kindness of strangers and companies like BIC, Cassandra has crowdfunded field trips, books and even new classroom chairs.