The new school year is fast approaching and as state and federal funds for education continue to be cut, districts, schools, and most importantly teachers are forced to think outside of the box to pay for supplies, and programs. And too many times teachers have to foot the bill out-of-pocket for many of the well-needed supplies. To help, we’ve compiled a list of 10 creative ways schools and teachers can save money and stretch their scholastic budget.
- RETHINK PRINTING – Rethinking your school’s current printing solution can save thousands annually. An example is a school district in California that were able to reduce print outsourcing and saved over $60,000 annually. The school now has reliable, high-quality color and black-and-white printing capabilities and can print everything they need on site from student handbooks and test booklets, to calendars and parent mailings. “In talking with teachers, it was clear our schools needed more reliable printing resources, but our school board was reluctant to make any new equipment investments, fearing higher operational costs,” says Herb Calderon, assistant superintendent of business services. “Konica Minolta was able to demonstrate how the district could save valuable budget resources while providing our schools with advanced printing capabilities. It was a win-win value proposition.
- BOX TOPS FOR EDUCATION – Box Tops for Education is the largest loyalty program for the school industry. Here’s how it works. Parents, students, and the community simply collect box tops from participating brands which are worth ten cents each and give them to the school. The school then sends the box tops into the program and the school receives a check twice a year for the amount they raised, and the money can be used to buy anything they need.
- SCHOLASTIC READING PROGRAM – Have teachers join the Scholastic Reading Club. When students place an order the teacher earns rewards such as free books for the classroom. The books are handpicked by experts to fit the grade level and interests of the students. Each month students receive a new flyer with a selection of books that support what they are learning in the classroom.
- REFERRAL PROGRAM – Many suppliers to the educational sector have referral programs that offer money saving discounts and deals for those customers who provide word of mouth referrals. Asking suppliers that provide great products and services if they have a referral program is all you have to do to learn about their specific program and its details.
- YOUR FAVORITE STORES BEST DEALS – You can save big money by signing up for emails from your favorite stores and educational suppliers. You can even go a step further and follow them on social media sites to hear about discounts and sales as soon or before they’re happening. Some even have special discounts for those individuals on their mailing list.
- GRANTS AND TAX BREAKS – Free money is there for the taking, as long as educators aren’t scared of getting their hands dirty doing a little paperwork. The U.S. Department of Education maintains a database of open grant competitions, including their deadlines. Some of the local and national educational organizations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also sponsor grants for educators. Teachers can also deduct many of their scholastic expenses such as books and software on their taxes. These deductions are capped at $250 per year and are limited to qualifying items.
- INNOVATIVE WAYS TO EARN MONEY –
- School Location for Films – The movie industry is always looking for a great location for their upcoming blockbuster. Schools are taking notice of this trend and are looking to earn much-needed funds by offering their building and premises for film locations. You can learn more about the opportunities available and the legalities behind offering your school location for film production by searching “School Locations for Films Near Me”.
- Crowdsourcing – Crowdsourcing has become an increasingly popular method of raising funds, and it has now reached the educational industry. If you’re at a k-12 school or at a college or university, you’re sure to find a crowdsourcing option to help fund any scholastic need you may have. Two of the top sites are Adopt-A-Classroom, and Donors Choose.
- FUNraiser program – Success with a fundraising campaign rely’s heavily on a great fundraising idea that’s not only effective at raising money but will also build excitement among donors and volunteers. An example of a unique program is the FUNraiser program ran by PrintCo Printing and Embroidery. It’s a t-shirt design contest for the students, where the winning design is then sold to raise needed funds. The program has no upfront cost and is paid for after the t-shirts have been sold. Making it an excellent opportunity to increase school spirit while raising funds for school programs.
- SOCIAL MEDIA – Social Media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others are great resources to locate other educators and what they’re buying, who is saving the most, and from what suppliers. You can use popular education hashtags to locate popular posts and groups with the same needs as yours which you can interact with to learn more. You can also locate many local businesses offering deals and discounts for educators and schools.
- TEACHER SPECIFIC DISCOUNTS – Many companies that provide the supplies that educators need have teacher specific discounts. NEA, the organization dedicated to advocating for educational professionals has compiled a list through their NEA Click and Save program. NEA members can register for this program and save money on almost anything they buy. If their program doesn’t have the specific discount you need, NEA also maintains a list of other teacher specific discounts for entertainment, travel, books and magazines and more.
- SOLICIT LOCAL BUSINESSES FOR DONATIONS – Local businesses like restaurants and coffee shops offer local organizations charity opportunities. If people come to the restaurant on a particular night, the school will get 20% of the night’s proceeds. This becomes a win-win when the school properly promotes this event and drive the sales higher than they normally would be without the special promotion.
As we know, education is extremely important and children should have the most conducive environment to learn in. Whether you’re in a K-12 classroom or a university research lab, hopefully, one of these options may be just what you’re looking for to fund everything from paper and pencils to tomorrow’s big discovery!