Teachers shopping at Hillsborough Education Foundation’s Teaching Tools Resource Center. (Photo courtesy of Hillsborough Education Foundation.)

Wednesday, August 10 is the first day for Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS). While some kids are focused on what they’ll wear or the excitement of seeing friends, others are worrying whether they’ll have a pencil or paper to help them succeed in school. In HCPS, three out of five students are from economically disadvantaged families, and many can’t afford the basic supplies their children need as they head back to their classrooms.

Hillsborough Education Foundation (HEF) believes a lack of resources should not be a barrier for students to learn. That’s why in the last school year, HEF provided more than $4.1 million in free supplies to students and teachers at the highest needs schools through the Teaching Tools Resource Center. It was a record-setting year for supply distribution, which shows that the need to support the most vulnerable students is greater than ever, given recent financial hardships for many families.

The Teaching Tools Resource Center, located at HEF at 2306 N. Howard Ave. in Tampa, reopened on July 25 for the 2022-23 school year. Teachers in HCPS Title I schools can shop for core school supplies and other resources needed for their classrooms twice per semester at no cost to them. Last school year, one shopping trip was worth an average of $418 in supplies — that’s an annual savings of nearly $1,700.

All too often, dedicated teachers will purchase supplies out of their own pockets before letting their students go without. A 2022 Kids in Need survey found one out of three teachers spent more than $500 of their personal funds on materials for students in the 2021-22 school year.

The community can support students and teachers and help stock the store’s shelves by hosting a supply drive at their business or organization, shopping from HEF’s Amazon Wish List at www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/30C9IAR0FOBXO or making a donation so HEF can purchase the most-needed supplies. Learn more about the ways to get involved at https://ducationfoundation.com/donateschoolsupplies.

Hillsborough Education Foundation was established in 1987 as a nonprofit focused on strengthening public education by supporting teachers and empowering students to achieve academic and personal success. Together with community partners, HEF strategically invests in initiatives that impact teaching quality, increase graduation rates and build equity in education, bolstering a thriving workforce of tomorrow and the sustainable prosperity of Tampa Bay.

Learn more at https://educationfoundation.com/.

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