Finding Free or Low-Cost School Supplies for Your Class

School supplies that teachers acquire for students

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 price. The Kids in Need Foundation and Reusable Resources Association have resources 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 or national organizations that can help you get the school supplies needed for your students to succeed.

Online

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.

Northeast

Connecticut

Ecoworks, Inc. is a creative reuse center in New Haven that sells low-cost art supplies to teachers and the public.

Maine

Ruth’s Reusable Resources in Portland allows lead teachers from approved schools to shop for a variety of school supplies.

Massachusetts

Extras for Creative Reuse in Lynn offers low- to no-cost materials for teachers to supplement their educational and creative arts programs and projects.

New York


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 non-profits 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.

Pennsylvania

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.

Rhode Island

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.

Read on to find supplies in Northeast states

Southeast

Alabama

Gulf Regional Early Childhood Services in Mobile allows teachers to check out materials like a library would.

Delaware

Delaware Teaching Center has nine centers statewide teachers can use to put together free class projects or learning materials.

Florida

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 County. A mobile store also visits schools.

Teaching Tools Store provides full-time teachers working for Hillsborough County Public School District the opportunity to shop for $200 or more in school supplies each month.

Georgia

Kids In Need Atlanta distributes new school supplies to teachers in low-income schools throughout Atlanta.

SCRAP Bin is a creative reuse center outside Atlanta that provides free materials to teachers along with art, science and math lesson plans.

Teachers’ Supply Store in Marietta allows teachers to shop for a variety of free supplies with school ID.

Maryland

Wish List Depot in Reisterstown allows teachers to shop for free school supplies in the store or online.

North Carolina

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.

South Carolina


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.

Tennessee

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.

West Virginia

Teacher Resource Center of the World Vision network provides access to teachers to stock up on supplies, focusing on Barbour County.

Virginia

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.

Read on to find supplies in Southeast states

Midwest

Illinois

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.

Indiana

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.

Iowa

Reusable Usables offers heavily discounted art supplies to teachers and the general public in its LeClaire center.

Kansas

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.

Michigan

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.

Minnesota

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.

Missouri


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.

Ohio

Crayons to Computers distributes free school supplies to educators working in Cincinnati and 16 surrounding counties.

Cleveland Kids in Need Resource Center allows teachers from registered schools to shop once each semester. Eligibility is based on location and number of students who are eligible for federal free or reduced lunch.

Crayons to Classrooms is a free store for teachers from underfunded K-12 schools serving children in Ohio’s Miami Valley.

Read on to find supplies in Midwest states

Southwest

Arizona

Treasures 4 Teachers charges a $35 membership fee in exchange for mass discounts on supplies.

Upcycle Tucson is a creative reuse art center, where donated materials can be purchased by anyone.

New Mexico

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.

Oklahoma


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.

Texas

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.

Read on to find supplies in Southwest states

West

California

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.

Riverside Arts and Reuse Exchange is a great place for teachers or art instructors to pick up creative supplies for classroom projects.

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.

Trash for Teaching (T4T) in Gardena allows members ($100 for 100 units of materials) to shop for a variety of art-related supplies. They also put on workshops for 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.

Colorado

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.

Idaho

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.

Nevada

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.

Oregon

Schoolhouse Supplies gives Portland students and teachers access to free classroom supplies as often as once a week.

Washington

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.

Read on to find supplies in states in the West

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We are devoted to improving both student and teacher achievement, inside and outside the classroom. Our articles help examine the relationship between what to teach (curriculum) and how to teach (instruction). K-12 teachers will find resources that help foster a deeper learning environment and better student engagement.

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