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 SupplyAClassroom.org, 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 www.kinf.org.
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 email@example.com