May 13, 2019

Help the Kids In Need Foundation Helps Those Who Need it Most

Across America students get up each weekday morning and head off to spend the next roughly 7 hours in school. For most of the country, this activity is in the background of their daily lives. They want kids to listen to their teachers, get good grades, and stay out of trouble. They pay their property taxes and grumble about budget hikes, and largely trust that what is happening in our schools is working out alright.

Yet for the millions of students living in poverty, this daily experience is anything but alright. Teachers know this when they spend an average of $500 from their own pocket each year on supplies for their rooms or when when they cease sending back-to-school supply lists over the summer because the families can’t afford to go shopping. Students know this when they can’t complete assignments at home because they don’t have pencils or when they rely on federal nutrition programs to fill their bellies and can’t fill their backpacks. The Kids In Need Foundation knows things aren’t alright, and has dedicated itself to helping to fill the need.

“My students generally come with very few, if any, supplies each day. I never would have been able to provide enough supplies for my students if it was left to my own budget. I've noticed an increase in engagement, and generally I feel that my students are more willing to, or even excited to do the work in this class now.”  — A teacher from Cincinnati, OH

The mission of the Kids In Need Foundation (KINF) is to ensure that every child is prepared to learn and succeed in the classroom by providing free school supplies nationally to students most in need. According to the U. S. Department of Education, more than half of this country’s public school students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. It is these students, and their teachers, to whom Kids In Need Foundation offers free school supplies; the core tools for success in the classroom and in life.

Founded in 1995, the Kids In Need Foundation got its start in the school supplies and office products industry’s international trade association. With any number of challenges such as slow or sunsetting stock, logo changes or misprints, retailers and manufacturers in the trade association sought ways to lessen their impact. The founders of KINF realized that these truckloads of supplies should be put to better use. Both then and now, the core of KINF operations has been pairing businesses in need of inventory management solutions with teachers and schools who need new, quality supplies.

Enter the flagship program of KINF; the National Network of Resource Centers. Each Resource Center has a store front where teachers from qualifying schools can come to shop for free for their classroom. Each Center also has an associated warehouse that provides the logistical solution to receiving, storing, and distributing large-scale donations of inventory from all across the country. By inviting schools with high levels of need in their student body to shop, KINF provided a unique service in the industry and non-profit space both, allowing companies to directly support the community while also helping their bottom line.  

Between 1999 and 2019, Kids In Need Foundation has grown its Affiliate Network to 43 locations and is able to offer turn-key donation experiences to inventory donors nationwide. KINF has developed a seamless process that manages receipt of quantities from cartons to truckloads in critical time frames, often with only 72 hours’ notice. Many donors consider KINF an extension of their supply chain that comes with a four-star charity rating, a tax deductible donation, and the great feeling of seeing teachers and classrooms directly benefit. 

“Thank you to every single donor, no matter how large or small the donation is! It means so much to have a resource that helps teachers, students, and the community.” — A teacher from Indianapolis, IN

The actual product that KINF receives can vary depending on seasonality, but the Foundation is careful to ensure only quality items end up available for teachers. The students who ultimately receive and use these donated materials deserve equity and a classroom experience just like any other’s. Supplies range from backpacks and core items, to classroom furniture and cleaning materials, books, arts and crafts, and more.

Each year, KINF surveys the teachers who use their services to ensure that their programs are delivering strong impact and that the supplies and support provided are aligned with classroom needs. This direct feedback guides the core product that KINF keeps stocked on the shelves of the Resource Centers and provides in other national programs. The number one requested item in 2017 was pencils, followed closely by dry erase markers, notebooks, and copy paper. These are items that get consumed as students engage in learning and need to be replenished frequently.

Over the years, as the number of Resource Centers has expanded, so too has the number of programs KINF offers to meet the diverse needs of students. School Ready Supplies program was established in 2004 as a way to provide supplies directly into the hands of students in locations that don’t yet have Resource Centers. Donors sign on to sponsor backpacks filled with core supplies and provide enough for a full school. This program has become a fast favorite with corporate donors because the filling and preparing of the backpacks makes a great team-building event. KINF will ship bulk supplies anywhere in the country, to trade shows or national conferences and more, and set up the volunteer experience that strengthens teams and cooperation. 

In 2013, Kids In Need formalized their response to natural disasters by creating their Second Responder® program. This program provides relief after disasters such as hurricanes or flooding, working directly with the schools to customize the supplies offered and to help students return to normalcy. In 2018, KINF relaunched their Classroom Supply Box program with, its first online giving platform that allows donors to connect directly with classrooms in need of support. Donors can join forces to collectively fund one or several classrooms in districts across the United States.

“It just means so much to know that as a teacher, you are not the only one looking out for the students.  So many of our students don't have an advocate.” — A teacher from Tampa, FL

In 2018, Kids In Need Foundation served nearly 200,000 teachers and more than 6 million students. Since its founding, KINF has distributed more than one billion dollars in school supplies. Until students and teachers no longer have the need, Kids In Need Foundation is dedicated to helping those who need it most. You can learn more about how to support their efforts by visiting

About Kids In Need Foundation – The Kids In Need Foundation’s mission is to ensure that every child is prepared to learn and succeed in the classroom by providing free school supplies nationally to students most in need. The Kids In Need Foundation, a national 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in 1995, has distributed $1 billion in school supplies, directly benefiting more than 6 million students and nearly 200,000 teachers in 2018.  To learn more about how KINF is moving unwanted inventory, contact Jennifer Lehman, Director of Donor Relations and Gift In Kind, at 937-545-0028 or

SOARing into Active Classrooms: A Case Study with an ADHD School

By Stevyn Guinnip, MSEd, Furniture for Life

Deep in the hills of North Carolina, just outside of Asheville, is a high school called the Academy at SOAR. It is an adventure-based school that offers experiential learning to support high school students with ADHD and other behavioral challenges. I visited their campus recently to see how they were doing in their newly redesigned math classroom. This was their first year to offer standing workstations and active seating to their students, so I wanted to observe firsthand the impacts that active design may be having on student behavior and learning.

When I first arrived, Julie Lambert, the Dean of Academics, greeted me with a warm smile and contagious laugh. She exuded patience and warmth and was everything I would want in an administrator helping my child through a challenging stage of life. Julie proceeded to introduce me to a few of the teachers and show me around the refreshingly simple, calming, and charming school.

As I listened to the teachers’ experiences, I understood why they had an interest in creating active learning stations. The students at SOAR were there because they required special accommodations that a traditional classroom couldn’t provide. Before they implemented the active classroom, Julie said, “I’d have students who would need to do a little lap around the road and back because they just had to get this energy out somehow.” After introducing the active stations, Julie said, “They are finding ways to expel some energy while still being able to be present in class.”

I saw the evidence of this while I observed one of the classes. Students were standing, semi-sitting, rocking, pivoting, or fidgeting their way through the lesson. The girls, boys, and administrators I interviewed all said they experimented with different positions until they finally found something that worked for them.

According to one energetic male student, this helped him stop focusing on holding still so he could focus on the lesson. Another student I talked with, who had bright blue hair to match her bright personality, admitted that it was annoying to other students when she tapped her foot and couldn’t hold still, so using an active work space helped her fidget without distracting everyone else because the base of the stool was already rounded for rocking, and it has a rubber non-slip pad for safety and noise control.

I learned that the idea for creating active classrooms stemmed from Executive Director, John Willson’s, personal experience. He told me a story about his own son’s struggle with ADHD that began to be a problem in 2nd grade. They bought him a Move stool to take to his classroom, and John said the chair “made a world of difference for him...allowing him to move and stay in the moment and be successful.” When it came time to remodel the SOAR classroom, John didn’t hesitate to incorporate movement-minded workstations.

For many of us who are used to traditional classrooms, fidgeting and movement may seem counter intuitive. A common phrase from teachers is, “Sit still and pay attention.” The children who can do that are rewarded for sitting quietly at their desks and doing their lessons, while other children who can’t sit still have been unable to cope in a "normal" classroom setting. Ironically, they may get their only "allowable" exercise in their march to the principal's office.

My visit to SOAR inspired me to ask questions like, “What if our concept of normal is wrong?” “Is sitting still the best way for learning to take place?” “Could it be possible that the ones who cannot sit still are more normal and in touch with their learning needs than we give them credit for?”

Eric Jensen’s work in his book Teaching with the Brain in Mind, provides some answers to my questions. Jensen explains that traditional school settings have historically operated from the mindset of a “Sit and Get” learning style. However, he describes the part of the brain that regulates motor movements (cerebellum) as having over 40 million neurons, most of which are
outbound to memory, attention, and spatial perception. So, by activating the cerebellum, learning is triggered in the brain.

Jensen goes on to say that we now know “the relationship between movement and learning is so strong that it pervades all of life.” Likewise, John Ratey, author of the book Spark: the Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain , says, “Movement is like fertilizer for the brain.”

Inspired by words like these, all of us can consider how we might incorporate more active learning in our daily routines. And for the students at SOAR, we can catch a glimpse of how much more difficult it is for those students who have been diagnosed with ADHD to attempt to sit still while they are learning. It becomes clear that it is more counter intuitive to ask a child to sit still to learn.

However, despite this growing body of research, our schools and classrooms have yet to catch up. Aside from innovative schools like SOAR, it appears that we have been doing ADHD students, and all students for that matter, a disservice throughout their education by failing to link physical movement to the learning process.

While the relationship between movement and learning is strong, it’s hard to change the pattern of behavior of a whole culture addicted to sitting. Research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2017 followed 8000 middle-aged and older adults in the United States for 4 years. They concluded that the average American is sedentary for 12.3 hours for every 16 waking hours in a day. It also found that those with the highest cumulative hours of sedentariness had higher incidences of all-cause mortality. (3)

Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic suggests that there are over 30 chronic diseases attached to sedentary behavior. Unfortunately, this pattern of sedentary behavior begins early in kindergarten where kids spend 6-8 hours per day sitting still. It appears that our schools have unwittingly become the training ground for sedentariness in adulthood.

During the several hours that I spent at SOAR, it became abundantly clear to me that all students — not just those with ADHD — could benefit from rethinking the layout and function of the classroom. As a kinesiologist, I cling to the research and suggest that we celebrate and encourage movement throughout the day. Now that we can prove how detrimental sitting still is to both health and learning outcomes, we can no longer expect our children to sit still and stop fidgeting in school. Instead, we are left with the task of teaching ourselves and our students that movement is good, vital to learning, and vital to a long, healthy life.

Children seem to know this innately, so I encourage parents, teachers, and administrators to get on board to celebrate  movement in the classroom and find ways to work with the student’s natural tendencies rather than trying to contain them. SOAR Academy is an example of how busy, moving, normal kids can peacefully coexist with, and even enhance, the learning process. If you have an interest in learning more, this webinar with EDmarket might be a good place to start. You can also explore movement options for your school, classroom, or workspace by contacting me directly at or call (573) 590-3881.

Stevyn Guinnip, MSEd, helps organizations rethink traditional concepts about how workplaces and schools should function in a modern, health-conscious society. She has a master’s degree in kinesiology and over 20 years of experience including research for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), corporate wellness, cardiac rehab, business consulting, and launching fitness
programs in both the US and Australia. Currently, Stevyn is the Corporate Kinesiologist for FFL Brands® in Boulder, Colorado.


1. Lou, D. Sedentary Behaviors and Youth: Current Trends and the Impact on Health. San
Diego, CA: Active Living Research ; 2014. Available from: .
2. Levine, James A. “Sick of Sitting.” Diabetologia , vol. 58, no. 8, 2015, pp. 1751–1758.,
3. Diaz, Keith M., et al. “Patterns of Sedentary Behavior and Mortality in U.S. Middle-Aged
and Older Adults.” Annals of Internal Medicine , vol. 167, no. 7, 2017, p. 465.,
4. Jensen, Eric. Teaching with the Brain in Mind . ASCD, 2005.
5. Ratey, John J., and Eric Hagerman. Spark: the Revolutionary New Science of Exercise
and the Brain . Little, Brown, 2013.
6. Education Market Association webinar by Stevyn Guinnip, 2019. Active Design for the
Classroom & The Physiological Impact on the Student

Translating Your Profession to Students — 5 Tops to Becoming an Effective Educator

By Patrick Thorpe, AIA, Allegedly Design

On July 31st, 2018 the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act was signed into law. If you are not an architect, or involved in STEM education, this may not have made headlines in your news feed. This important legislation, however, allows for over $1 billion in career and technical education grants for high school level architectural programs.

For educators, this means States will be allowed to use federal money to modernize their CTE curriculum to include architectural education and “encourage a more diverse workforce, fulfill the promise of design as the synthesis of art and science, and affect a fundamental change in educational curricula.”

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) K-12 Initiative supports the development of local architecture education programs by building relationships between chapters, members, allied members and educational partners. AIA is currently developing a digital repository that includes sample program guides and teaching tools, scholarships, and grant opportunities. These resources are invaluable in creating and maintaining a successful program.

The diversity and extent of resources from a national network of volunteers allows for anyone interested in starting an Architecture in Education (AIE) program the ability to start making connections with local schools almost immediately. There is a plethora of people willing to share learning experiences and lesson plans from their local programs. But let’s face it, if you have never stood in front of a room full of thirty rambunctious and curious students, you may be apprehensive about that first encounter. And that’s OK.

Nothing will be more important than creating a positive learning environment from the start. Children can be brutally honest. They are curious by nature and can be cavalier in their self-expressions. To an adult, the idea of a child telling you exactly what they think can be daunting. With a little preparation and confidence however, it is nothing to fear.

In the four years that I have been participating in the Architecture in Education program in Tampa, FL, at Lee Elementary, our biggest hurdle in preparing leaders for the eight week in-class program is convincing local architects that students will not be completely disinterested. I assure you that 9 times out of 10, students are excited to meet you and ready to listen.

If you are interested in or are considering launching an AIE program at any school, here are a few quick tips to establish a successful student-educator relationship from the start.

Tip No. 1
You are in control. This is your classroom, you lead the conversation and manage the flow of information. Take every opportunity to express your personal mastery of the topics at hand even if it means telling the whole room how badly you goofed on something before you learned how to do it correctly. Use your immediate surroundings as reference to make new or complex ideas relatable. You may be surprised how well your students relate and respond positively.

It is common for new educators to be nervous, questioning themselves ‘what if they ask me something I don’t know,’ or ‘what if they think I am a liar?’ Well, there is one simple way to answer both questions: tell the truth. If you don’t know the answer, tell them you will look it up and get back to them — and then deliver on that.

Tip No. 2
Don’t be afraid of shifting focus to enhance learning opportunities. You will not reach every student the same way — some students are good listeners, others require hands-on activities. It is easy to keep focus and attention by presenting actively. What I mean is:
  • Don’t stand still — move around the classroom and engage with the students at their desks.
  • Don’t just talk — ask questions about how the material at hand relates to their studies.
  • Exercise active listening — respond to comments directly and explore ideas that lead into the next part of the lesson.
  • Use your imagination to capture their attention. An idea can be expressed with a sketch, a physical property can be described with a demonstration, vocabulary words can be written down for reinforcement.
  • Ask for volunteers to help with demonstrations or passing out supplies for an exercise.

An object in motion tends to remain in motion, while an active mind tends to remain open and interested.

Tip No. 3
Know when to be serious and know when to have fun. When it comes to hands on learning activities, you need to set clear and definable goals that provide a measurable outcome. Competition is natural and healthy. Strive to provide an environment where achieving more is encouraged but not in a way that it becomes detrimental to achieving the learning objectives of the exercise or becoming devoid of imagination.

Keep the classroom teacher engaged by sharing lessons and presentations ahead of time. They will be your best resource in the classroom to help relate the information to the daily learning, as well as assisting in tailoring the presentation to the class. Lastly, they can be your biggest ally as a disciplinarian should the need arise.

Tip No. 4
That does not mean that you shouldn’t be having fun all the time. The only time a student will be less than interested in anything you have to say is if they feel no one is listening. Do yourself a favor and read the comics or watch a new cartoon. If you want to know how to make your material fun, ask students what they find entertaining and then do your research. Structure the next lesson to make it relatable. You do not have to deviate very far from reality to make fantasy worlds plausible, especially when communicating the importance and value of design.

Tip No. 5
Be a good sport. That means knowing how to act after crossing the finish line first, even if you have never been there before. You must only get over the first hurdle; then the momentum carries you through. No one starts out as an expert, being an effective educator is no different. It takes practice, patience and continual refinement in order to keep programs relevant.

Remember that a good attitude never goes out of style. Trust yourself, you got this.

Patrick Thorpe, AIA is an award-winning young architect. He is the 2019 President of the American Institute of Architects Tampa Bay & the youngest individual to serve that honor in the chapters ninety-year history. Patrick is Secretary for the Tampa Bay Foundation for Architecture & Design and served as an Advisor to the AIA Florida Strategic Council. Patrick’s work and contact information can be found online at