With Idaho teachers and schools facing serious budget cuts this fall and families still struggling from the recession, many businesses and nonprofits are pitching in to help educators and parents pinch pennies. Here are some opportunities we’ve come across, including some you might want to share with family and friends outside the classrooms.
More than 30 members of the Boise Education Association teamed up with students for a shopping spree at the Target store in Boise on August 10. The “school spree,” organized by Target and The Salvation Army for the first time in 2009, expanded to 12,000 students in 500 stores nationwide this year. Each child received an $80 gift card to select back-to-school supplies and clothing with the help of a BEA buddy. (Pictured above are Christine Simon, a teacher at Koelsch Elementary, and Christopher Sands, who is entering ninth grade at Riverglen Junior High. See more photos here.) Target also donates 1 percent of purchases made on its “RED” card to the K-12 school of the cardholder's choice. This “Take Charge of Education” program has generated $273 million for schools since 1997. Click here for more info on other Target programs to benefit schools.
In Idaho Falls, the local education foundation will raffle off a Toyota truck as a means of raising money for school clubs and activities. The tickets will be sold all school year for $10 each, and the winner will be drawn at a track meeting next April. Learn more here.
At Carpet One stores in Idaho Falls and Pocatello, customers can request that a donation from a portion of their purchase be sent to the school – or even a specific classroom – of the customer’s choice. “I’m an old school board member and huge proponent of public schools. I just cringe when I see education being cut,” says store owner Ken Bernt, who served on the District 25 board in the 1990s. “One of the things that makes our country as great as it is has been the way we’ve provided educational opportunities to our kids for so many generations.” Bernt says he’s been running ads featuring the promotion on radio and television and Carpet One has sent several donations to local schools since the promotion began August 1. The donations vary but average about 7 percent of the total sales price, “because that was the average school budget cut.” The Pocatello and Idaho Falls Carpet One stores plan to run the promotion at least through the end of September.
Saturday, August 21, is Teacher Appreciation Day at Staples stores across Idaho. Teachers are invited to stop in their local Staples store between 9 a.m. and noon to score a binder filled with all sorts of special values to the first 100 educators in attendance, while supplies last. Click here for more information.
Every day is NEA member day at Barnes & Noble’s online NEA Bookstore, where members and their families save 5 percent and get free delivery on eligible orders of $25 or more. Special discounts and promotions are only available online through the NEA Bookstore and are not available in Barnes & Noble retail stores.
Many local Idaho bookstores are helping teachers and librarians stretch their budgets, too. Like most independent booksellers, BookPeople of Moscow and Boise’s Rediscovered Bookshop offer everyday discounts to educators. Last year, Rediscovered Bookshop teamed with South Junior High in Boise to hold a dinner at which parents and others bought 60 books that the school needed for its library. Many locally owned bookstores are also maintaining “wish lists” so people can buy and donate books to school libraries. “You can’t do without books,” says Rediscovered bookseller Bruce Delaney, noting that librarians aren’t just looking for newly published books, but classics, too. “What do you do as a librarian when your copies of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ get lost or stolen or fall apart?”
The Idaho Botanical Garden is running a challenge grant through August 20 to raise funds to help Idaho teachers continue to take their classes to the garden for field trips. (More than 8,000 Treasure Valley elementary students typically visit the garden each school year.) Donations under $200 will be matched by the challenge grant donor and gifts over $200 will be tripled. The goal is $20,000, which would help 400 classes visit the Idaho Botanical Garden to learn about botany, soil science, ecology, and more. To learn more, click here or call (208) 343-8649.
Fall is always prime fundraising season for schools, and the demands will be higher than ever this year. Before you take on another magazine or cookie dough drive, consider the products offered by Idaho Preferred, where the “Idaho Farmers Supporting Idaho Schools” healthy fundraising program helps circulate money back to Idaho farms, ranches, and specialty food producers. Fourteen Idaho products will be offered this fall, including apples and pears, pickled asparagus, potatoes, honey, spring water, and mixes for muffins, soup, flapjacks, and more. For more information, click here or call Kim Peterson at Idaho Preferred at (208) 332-8532.
“The Knack” is the educational discount program at Michaels, a national chain of arts and crafts stores. Click here to learn about a variety of ongoing discounts and promotions, including a buy-one, get-one free promotion for Cricut and Yudu craft machines going on now through the end of August.
Do you know of another Idaho business doing something to help ease the impact of school budget cuts on Idaho’s teachers, schools, and families? Let us help spread the word. Please email details to Julie Fanselow at the IEA.