ASK any teacher in the thousands of cash-strapped school districts across the United States: Keeping a classroom supplied with basic materials is a constant battle.
Many public-school teachers use their own money to buy supplies such as pencils, art materials, or books. Ninety-six percent of US teachers reached into their own pockets for school supplies in 1990, according to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Some schools are turning to corporate donations for help with supplies.
The National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources (NAEIR), a 15-year-old nonprofit organization in Galesburg, Ill., matches corporate donations of excess inventory with school needs. Contributing companies receive federal tax deductions for their donations.
School administrators can choose the items they need from a 300-page catalog published by NAEIR five times a year. Schools pay NAEIR an annual fee of $645, plus shipping costs.
Perth Amboy High School in Perth Amboy, N.J., has received more than $20,000 worth of supplies through NAEIR in the past year. The school has ordered supplies for industrial-arts courses, textbooks for home economics classes, sheet music, ink pads, and computer software. "We're getting a ratio of about 10 to 1 return on the investment," says Robert S. Estok, supervisor of vocational-technical education at the school.