School budgets are squeezed, and teachers often spend their own money on classroom supplies. There’s help, with plenty of inexpensive supplies at 90 percent off, donated by area businesses, at RAFT (Resource Area of Teaching), 2875 Blake St., a Denver nonprofit that also features a teacher workroom and digital classroom.
More than 1,000 teachers have signed up as members; the cost is $25 per year. “We have hundreds of materials donors and have impacted tens of thousands of students,” said Stephanie Welsh, executive director, who opened RAFT on Aug. 15, 2009, in an old printing plant. RAFT works with before- and after-school programs, home schoolers, Girl Scouts, youth groups and nonprofits, and does joint workshops with such institutions as The Children’s Museum of Denver, Denver Art Museum and Denver Zoo.
The workshops “are all interactive,” Welsh says. “They cover everything from science to art to literature to computer programming. Basically, it’s all about getting the kids working with the materials. Studies show that children understand better and retain better when they’re doing hands-on learning.”
Businesses have donated all kinds of items: picture frames, boxes, tile, foam, fabric, books, bottle caps, bottles, pipettes, test tubes, massive paper rolls from printers, lab coats and office supplies, for example.
The cheap cost of just $3 or $4 for a bread board circuit kit exemplifies how RAFT can help teachers. RAFT also has 600 idea sheets for classroom activities using these everyday items.
Carrie and John Morgridge provided the startup money.