WASHINGTON—Today, the American Federation of Teachers announced $400,000 in funding for over 800 classrooms across the country. The requests, made to DonorsChoose from teachers in more than 600 schools—members and nonmembers alike—were filled to help purchase cleaning supplies, learning materials, paper and pencils, books, personal hygiene products, personal protective equipment and other materials teachers need to help keep students safe and learning.
“The last few years have been incredibly difficult—emotionally, physically and financially—for students, educators, parents, caregivers and the entire educational community,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Many elected officials have not stepped up and given our classrooms what they need to keep students on track. These supplies are the least we can do to help educators feel seen, respected and supported as they do everything in their power to help our students thrive.”
DonorsChoose is a national nonprofit dedicated to combating inequity in public school funding by allowing people to donate to classroom projects of their choosing. Weingarten delivered supplies to classrooms in Lowell, Mass., and Albuquerque, N.M.
“I am so grateful for the support from the AFT and DonorsChoose,” said Kethmanee Bungo, a teacher and AFT member in San Francisco. “It may not seem like much, but these are some of the basic necessities my students need to get the best education possible. Despite the ongoing political climate, safety and education are paramount.”
For decades before COVID-19, educators regularly spent over $400 a year to buy items for their classrooms and supplies for their students because they care so deeply about their kids. The pandemic has only increased that burden.
“This has been a challenging school year where, despite tremendous support from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, educators still don’t have the resources our kids need,” Weingarten said. “Often you see parents stepping up to help, and today the union is stepping up to help.”
DonorsChoose, launched by former Bronx public school teacher Charles Best in 2000, has fulfilled over 2.2 million classroom projects in over 86,000 schools across the country—for a total of more than $1 billion.
“For the last two years, teachers have gone even more above and beyond to ensure their students have access to an enriching education,” Best said. “Thanks to the AFT, educators will get a boost of encouragement and support as they continue to navigate the changing landscape of COVID-19.”
“Many educators take second and third jobs to help their kids and help themselves stay afloat financially,” added Weingarten. “By fulfilling these $400,000 in requests, we’re spreading hope and expressing gratitude to teachers and school staff who’ve sacrificed so much to ensure a better life for our children and our communities. And we’re also shining a spotlight on decades of underfunding and the urgent need to invest in our kids and the schools they attend.”