Ask Pat

Martin Guerrero, San Clemente, California, asks:

This is my first year to teach at my current school; it has no budget for materials. I am always spending my time trying to get donations.  Is it just my district, or do others not have a budget?  Do you have suggestions for fundraising?


Pat: Martin this is a great question because this issue is all about constraints...limitations that can spur you to creative solutions! So don’t let that funding constraint block you from finding creative ways to get supplies.

The first 20 years I taught, the districts in Texas where I worked didn’t even have elementary art teachers, much less funding for them! I became an art teacher who had to excel at being a language arts/reading specialist. I was thrilled when I transferred 15 years ago to a district near Houston that did include Elementary art in every school.  Then, I immediately found out that the district did not fund Elementary art programs other than pay my salary.  It does fund both Middle School and High School programs.  Sadly, such is the case in more than 75% of districts across the United States.

Teacher fundraising is allowed in most schools.  Everyartist Everyday will devote a future issue to fundraising but, in the meantime here are a few ideas.

  • Using companies that reproduce student’s artworks on a variety of items for sale (mugs, plates, memo pads, stationery, placemats, etc.) is one way many earn monies.

  • An end-of-year auction for student artworks is usually a very successful event, and if invited, can bring in funding from community and business members that do not have children in the school.

  • Piggyback art sales by having an activity table or two at each evening PTO/PTA meeting, or by participating in a school carnival with students manning an art booth to sell prints, etc.

  • Ask the school PTO or PTA organization, if there is one in your school, for help with simple materials. For years my construction/manila papers, markers and crayons were ordered with the school supplies.  At the end of each year, I asked all classroom teachers as they cleaned out to send me scissors, glue, crayons, rulers, etc. not claimed by students. It is amazing the plethora of new items I collected each year. For the last ten years that I taught I NEVER had to buy glue, scissors, rulers, pencils, crayons, colored pencils or markers! So whatever monies I had earned during the year I could spend to order more “exotic” items for the next year.

  • Lastly, National sponsors are available through many organizations like Donors, Support Your Local, Adopt a Classroom who do grants for materials.