FAQ

How do teachers spend $9 million of their own money on school supplies every year? 

What are they buying?

Teachers purchase basic classroom supplies - like pencils, notebooks, and folders - so their students have what they need to succeed. Schools don't provide these materials and families can't always afford them. 77.7% of Chicago public school students qualify as economically disadvantaged.*

To do their jobs, teachers bear the burden of purchasing materials for students themselves. he teachers we’ve talked to purchase materials for their classrooms on a weekly basis. Creative supplies needed for project-based learning often come out of pocket too. Remember that cool volcano you made in middle school? Teachers pay for those supplies when school budgets can't or won't.

How did we calculate $9 million?

In a Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange survey of almost 600 teachers in the Chicago Teachers Union, respondents reported spending an average of $500 of their own money on classroom materials annually. As of July 2018, Chicago Public Schools employs 19, 526 teachers in city schools. The average annual out-of-pocket expenditure of $500 per teacher, multiplied by all teachers in the city equals $9,763,000 - the "over $9 million" figure that we cite.

Resources for further learning:

If you want to learn more about how much teachers spend on classroom materials, here are some helpful resources: 

*From Chicago Public Schools: "Economically Disadvantaged Students" come from families whose income is within 185 percent of the federal poverty line.
 

Who can enroll in the Teachers Resource Project?

Any certified teacher who works within Chicago city limits is eligible to enroll in the Teachers Resource Project. This includes public, charter, private, and university educators. 

The Teachers Resource Project is dedicated to making Chicago's educational system more equitable by giving students and teachers the resources they need to succeed. Unfortunately, day care centers and after school programs are not eligible to enroll at this time.

What is The WasteShed?

The Teacher's Resource Project is an initiative of The WasteShed, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit. The WasteShed is Chicago's only nonprofit creative reuse center and a thrift store for art supplies in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. Learn more.

How does my $20 support Chicago teachers and students?

Your $20 monthly recurring donation will sponsor a Chicago teacher's material costs for one entire year, impacting 200 students annually.

How do we know?

Each quarter, teachers enrolled in the Teachers Resource Project will receive an $80 materials stipend ($20/month) from The WasteShed. Because The WasteShed's secondhand inventory is typically half off items’ retail price, teachers can afford DOUBLE the supplies than if they shopped at a regular store. Your annual donation of $240 is equivalent to ~$500 of materials at normal retail prices. Since teachers spend an average of $500 a year on classroom supplies, your $20 monthly donation will cover one Chicago teacher's annual out-of-pocket expenses in full. Huzzah!

Where does my donation go? 

The Teachers Resource Project (TRP) is an initiative of the The WasteShed, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit located in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood.

When you donate to the Teachers Resource Project, 100% of your contribution - after payment processing fees - covers materials purchased by Chicago teachers at The WasteShed. At The WasteShed, teachers can buy secondhand classroom supplies at half their retail cost AND save valuable materials from the landfill. Amazing!

All project donations are tax deductible.

Who does the TRP benefit?

TRP helps all Chicago teachers, but we know from our research that Pre-K-5, special education, and high school art teachers benefit the most. These teacher groups rely on the most on supplementary materials and manipulatives for their classrooms. You can feel good knowing that your donation is finding its way into elementary classrooms across the city. 

Inequity is a real problem in Chicago and some teachers have less access to funding than others. Almost 80% of Chicago Public School students qualify as economically disadvantaged*, which means they likely don't have the materials they need for a quality education. The Teachers Resource Project particularly helps teachers and students living and working in low-income neighborhoods. 

Teachers in the Chicago suburbs who are ineligible to apply are encouraged to visit S.C.A.R.C.E in Glen Ellyn, IL, another nonprofit offering teachers free access to educational materials.

*From Chicago Public Schools: "Economically Disadvantaged Students" come from families whose income is within 185 percent of the federal poverty line.