A conversation about Equipped to Teach with Rachel Daughtry, Director of Agency Relations.
What is the Teacher Resource Center?
The Teacher Resource Center (Equipped to Teach) was officially launched at our Lafayette Street warehouse on December 5, 2017 as a creative, innovative way to serve our local full-time, New York State certified school teachers that are currently teaching in schools that participate in the federal lunch program where 70% or more of the student body receive free or reduced price lunch. This is the very first teacher resource center in CNY, so we were super excited and nervous to start it!
Compassion Coalition has always been very involved with giving to our local schools since we launched in January of 2000, and have been delivering products to local schools steadily for the last few years, but we wanted to take it one step further and really make a place in our warehouse specifically for teachers. Equipped to Teach allows teachers to come in and choose what supplies they need for their classrooms, instead of Compassion Coalition deciding what is needed. It’s a win/win! Teacher’s are able to get much needed educational staples, and new, fresh teaching tools that they may not have had available to them otherwise.
Who has access to it?
We are currently closed until the fall, but this last year we started with our local Utica Schools where 70% or more of the student body receive free or reduced lunch. We then began inviting specific schools that qualified from Oneida, Herkimer and Madison Counties. We were able to serve 460 teachers, and a cumulative number of 28,000+ local students from 45 local schools!
Why do they need it?
Teachers are constantly spending money out of their own pockets for their students. The national average that a teacher spends out of pocket is $485 a year. Because we live in an area with such high need, a lot of our local teachers are spending so much more than the national average. This program allows more local, at-risk students to be served, and teachers are able to use fresh educational support tools so they don’t have to spend their hard-earned money. This year we were able to distribute more than $30,000 in Legos to STEAM clubs throughout CNY, along with STREAM workbooks, allowing for new learning opportunities in our local schools.
Where do you get the supplies?
Compassion Coalition is a self-sustaining nonprofit, so most of the supplies were purchased through local and national wholesale vendors. This was made possible due to our store, Your Bargain Grocer, which generates income and allows us to be fluid with our giving. We also work with national partners who supply us with overstock supplies, books and speciality items. We are really hoping that our local businesses, banks and communities will partner with us for the upcoming school year and sponsor some of the supplies.
Do you profit off the teachers?
No, we definitely don’t profit off the teachers. They receive the supplies completely free of charge. We have absolutely loved getting to know our local teachers this year, as well as the administrators at the local schools and cannot wait to do it again during the 2018-2019 school year.