Finding Free or Low-Cost School Supplies for Your Class
Updated June 21, 2019
Getting the right supplies for the start of school isn’t just a challenge for parents and students, but increasingly for teachers, too.
Teachers, especially those who work in underserved communities, must find ways to provide academic necessities like pencils, paper, and books for their students, often without funding from their school district. But gathering enough supplies for their classrooms isn’t cheap.
On average, teachers spent nearly $500 each out of their own pocket last year, and 10 percent spent $1,000 or more, according to a national school supply organization.
Thankfully, many organizations around the U.S. help teachers get access to these crucial items at little or no cost. The Kids in Need Foundation and Reusable Resources Association have resource centers located across the country to support teachers who struggle to supply their classrooms. These groups provide everything from basic school necessities to the nontraditional: egg cartons or plastic food containers for class projects.
Here are some local and national organizations that can help you get the school supplies needed for your students to succeed.
DollarDays offers discounts on nearly every item, with larger discounts for bulk purchases. Teachers get free shipping.
ForTeachersOnly provides discount supplies.
Adopt A Classroom offers donors an opportunity to donate supplies to a specific classroom. Teachers register their classroom and do not purchase anything.
Donors Choose also offers donors an opportunity to donate supplies to a specific classroom. Teachers submit a request and, when it is fully funded, the requested item is sent directly to you!
Ecoworks, Inc. is a creative reuse center in New Haven that sells low-cost art supplies to teachers and the public.
Ruth’s Reusable Resources in Portland allows lead teachers from approved schools to shop for a variety of school supplies.
Lakeshore Learning Store has several stores in Massachusetts and offers educators a 15% discount on many in-store items when they sign up for their Teachers Club.
The Teacher’s Desk is a Buffalo store where teachers can shop for free books, school supplies and other resources for their students. Materials for the Arts is a reuse center that gives teachers and nonprofits access to resources and art materials. The New York City center also provides workshops for educators to learn more about how to use projects for lessons across content areas.
Feed the Children‘s Bethlehem store allows teachers from approved school districts to shop.
The Resource Exchange, based in Philadelphia, is a reuse center open to teachers and the general public.
Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse is open to the public, and teachers get one free bulk bag each visit.
Resources for Rhode Island Education takes excess materials destined for the landfill and provides them at little or no cost to educators. Teachers or their schools must sign up for an annual membership.
Gulf Regional Early Childhood Services in Mobile allows teachers to check out materials like a library would.
Delaware Teaching Center has nine centers statewide teachers can use to put together free class projects or learning materials.
Teachers Supply Depot is run by Duval County Public Schools and collects donated materials from companies in the Jacksonville area that teachers can use for their classrooms.
Tools 4 Teaching allows any full-time teacher working for Marion County Public Schools to shop once a month for a variety of classroom supplies.
A Gift for Teaching lets teachers shop for free school supplies each month if they work in eligible, high-needs schools in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties. A mobile store also visits schools.
Teaching Tools Store provides full-time teachers working for Title I schools in Hillsborough County Public School District the opportunity to shop for $200 or more in school supplies each month.
Kids In Need Atlanta distributes new school supplies to teachers in low-income schools throughout Atlanta.
Teachers’ Supply Store in Marietta allows teachers to shop for a variety of free supplies with school ID.
Wish List Depot in Reisterstown allows teachers to shop for free school supplies in the store or online.
Classroom Closet lets Alamance County teachers, who pay an annual $30 membership fee, shop up to four times each year for necessary school supplies.
Classroom Central allows teachers from eligible schools to shop for free school supplies at the Charlotte store throughout the academic year.
Crayons 2 Calculators provides teachers in Durham Public Schools access to free school supplies.
Teachers’ Supply Closet in North Charleston gives free supplies to teachers in the tri-county area if they work in schools where at least 83 percent of students qualify for free or reduced meal programs.
Teacher Supply Depot distributes new and lightly used classroom materials to teachers in Knox County Public Schools at least four times per school year.
Feed the Children’s LaVergne store allows teachers from approved school districts to shop.
LP Pencil Box allows public school teachers in Nashville to shop for new supplies at no cost.
Turnip Green Creative Reuse Center is a Nashville-based creative reuse facility open to the public with special membership discounts for educators.
Teacher Resource Center of the World Vision network provides access to teachers to stock up on supplies, focusing on Barbour County.
UpCycle Creative Reuse Center in Alexandria collects reusable items that can be used by teachers and other creatives. Teachers can sign up for professional development workshops and apply for discounted memberships, too.
The I.D.E.A. Store is a creative reuse marketplace in Champaign that offers free, eco-friendly supplies to teachers and community members alike.
The Creative Reuse Center allows teachers and everyday people in the Chicagoland area to fill a grocery bag worth of supplies at a flat cost.
Feed the Children’s Elkhart store allows teachers from approved school districts to shop.
Teacher’s Treasures is a free store for teachers and students in underserved communities throughout Indianapolis.
Reusable Usables offers heavily discounted art supplies to teachers and the general public in its LeClaire center.
Project Teacher lets teachers in the Wichita School District fill their classroom with new or lightly used school supplies for free. Teachers can shop twice each year.
The Scrap Box in Ann Arbor is open to teachers and the public. Individuals fill bags with recycled and reused materials that can be used for art or other creative projects.
Arts & Scraps assists community organizations and classrooms by providing low-cost recycled materials from a variety of Detroit area businesses. Teachers receive a special discount.
Twin Cities Kids In Need Resource Center operates as a free store for teachers in eligible schools and helps students get access to free school supplies.
KidSmart in Bridgeton allows teachers to shop for free school supplies and educational materials for students in need. Teachers must be state certified and teaching full time.
Crayons to Computers distributes free school supplies to educators working in Cincinnati and 16 surrounding counties.
Crayons to Classrooms is a free store for teachers from underfunded K-12 schools serving children in Ohio’s Miami Valley.
Treasures 4 Teachers charges a $35 membership fee in exchange for mass discounts on supplies.
The Family Development Program’s Wemagination Resource Center in Albuquerque provides and helps locate recycled items.
Partners in Education Foundation for the Santa Fe Public Schools offers a teacher warehouse.
Feed the Children’s Oklahoma City store allows teachers from approved school districts to shop one time per month.
The Pencil Box in Tulsa provides free supplies to teachers at eligible schools.
Austin Creative Reuse also makes instructional kits.
Teachers Aid program provides supplies to teachers who participate in the Houston Food Bank’s Backpack program.
The Center for Recycled Art in Houston diverts reusable materials for educational programs and the Teacher Warehouse.
Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley operates a free store open to teachers once a month during the school year.
South East Texas Food Bank allows teachers to shop at its free store in Beaumont once a month during the school year.
Teacher Resource Center allows public school teachers in Napa County to shop free for classroom supplies as long as 60 percent of students qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. Teachers who don’t qualify may volunteer for three hours to gain eligibility.
East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland diverts waste materials from landfills and redistributes discarded goods as low-cost supplies for art and education purposes.
Feed the Children’s Ontario store allows teachers from approved school districts to shop.
RAFT Bay Area provides lesson plans, affordable school and art supplies, and activity kits to teachers as long as they pay a $40 annual membership fee.
SCRAP is the nation’s first creative reuse center, providing low-cost supplies for art and education-related projects to teachers and the general public.
Inland Empire United Way allows low-income students and classrooms to receive new school supplies throughout the year. Teachers can pick up the free supplies if 70 percent of their students are enrolled in the federal free and reduced meal program.
ArtParts Creative Reuse Center is a creative reuse facility in Boulder County open to educators and the general public.
RAFT Denver provides lesson plans, affordable school and art supplies, and activity kits to teachers provided they pay a $40 membership fee each year.
Assistance League Boise allows teachers working in Ada County Public Schools to receive school supplies for no cost.
The Reuse Market in Garden City collects clean, reusable art and craft materials that teachers, artists, and the general public can use for their creative needs.
Teacher Exchange is a green initiative of the Public Education Foundation that distributes more than 3 million items to public school teachers in Clark County each year.
Schoolhouse Supplies gives Portland students and teachers access to free classroom supplies as often as once a week.
Creative Station repurposes surplus material that would otherwise go to a landfill and allows educators and other creatives to purchase bulk materials at a low cost.
Teacher Resource Center of the World Vision network provides access to teachers to stock up on supplies in the Puget Sound area, the Yakima area, and the Olympic Peninsula, including the Makah Nation in Neah Bay.
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