Teachers are forever on a mission to inspire critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication skills in students. Bringing those four C’s into the classroom often calls for materials not built into tight budgets.
The non-profit school supply warehouse RAFT (Resource Area For Teaching) Colorado is a unique place for Denver area educators to find boatloads of affordable items and fun ideas for giving students hands-on experiences in the process of learning concepts relating to math, science and art in particular.
“When we learned about RAFT we knew this was a wonderful fit for the items we were looking to donate,” said Wayne Qualkinbush, CEO and co-owner of the Centennial based eCommerce business Organize My Drawer.
In the process of starting up in 2015, the Centennial-based custom drawer organizer maker amassed about 1,500 cardboard shipping boxes in sizes they ultimately could not use. They had also created prototypes of their patent-pending laser-cut clear acrylic containers. Those along with some that had been ordered with wrong measurements were taking up storage space.
“We’ve been looking for the right place to donate our unused boxes and about 100 perfectly functional organizers. We wanted them to go where they could really be put to good use and we were pleased to find this amazing program for teachers and students,” Qualkinbush said.
RAFT Colorado runs a large warehouse space in northeast Denver filled with donated items, mostly from local organizations like The Denver Broncos, Denver Art Museum, IKEA, Whole Foods and many more. Members can purchase items for educational projects at about 90% off the donated value.
“We go through a lot of boxes, and we’re seeing a lot of schools doing cardboard challenges where students work together to create fantastic structures,” said RAFT Director of Education, Chris Dekay. “I can imagine all kinds of uses for these organizers. Early childhood education kids could use them to learn how to sort and count items, older kids could do measurements to learn math and percentages of space in divided sections. Maybe probability games where you toss a handful of beans up and see how many land in each segment. It will be fun to see how they get used,” said Dekay.
The donated materials worth over $10,000 will cost educators closer to $1,000 to use. Annual membership for educators is $25. About 3,600 active members shop at RAFT year-round. Companies and individuals wanting to donate items can learn more at raftcolorado.org.