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Grant Award Spotlight: Teaching Tools for Hillsborough County Schools

by Brian Breseman / Tampa Bay Lightning
Much like the Lightning could not take to the ice without sticks, skates, pads and gloves, the students and teachers of Hillsborough County would not be able to function without the proper supplies. By awarding a grant to the Hillsborough Education Foundation and their Teaching Tools for Hillsborough Schools program, the Lightning Foundation aims to help provide these valuable resources so that students can achieve academic success.

More than 95,000 students in Hillsborough County can not afford lunch, let alone school supplies and other tools necessary for learning. In order to pick up the slack, many teachers reach into their own pockets to the tune of $1,000 each year to help provide for their students. That is where the Teaching Tools program comes in.

“Teaching Tools for Hillsborough Schools supports the Hillsborough Education Foundation’s mission by working to ensure students and classrooms in Hillsborough County have the basic learning tools,” Hillsborough Education Foundation Associate Director of Development Linda Beckman said. “This is accomplished by transferring, at no cost, our community’s surplus supplies and merchandise into the hands of teachers and school children in need.”

The Teaching Tools program currently serves 87 of the highest need Title-I schools throughout the county. From those facilities, more than 1,800 teachers are eligible to shop monthly and 50,000 at-risk students receive school supplies each year.

At the Teaching Tools store, the average teacher will leave with $250 worth supplies to take back to their classroom at no cost to them. Products distributed range from basics such as pencils, pens, crayons, markers, and paper to other items such as backpacks, folders, books, incentive items as well as arts and crafts. Teachers can also choose from items such as binders, deskware and stationary.

Teaching Tools relies solely on donations of the community, both financial and in-kind, much like the grant from the Lightning Foundation.

“It is our belief that no child should be at risk for failure because they lack proper supplies to help them achieve academic success,” Beckman said. “We consider the services we provide to be the “starting block” for all learning.

“The Lightning Foundation’s generous gift and ongoing support addresses the basic supply necessities of our community’s highest-need students. It allows them to begin each school day equipped with the materials that will facilitate learning and lead to a productive adulthood.”
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