Raft (Resource Area For Teaching)

Rating: 4.9 stars   39 reviews

Issues: Education, Job Training

Location: 1355 Ridder Park Dr San Jose CA 95131 USA

Mission: RAFT (Resource Area For Teaching) believes that hands-on teaching is the best way for students to learn. RAFT transforms surplus materials donated by local businesses into interactive learning experiences for students in math, science, technology and art, providing teachers and community groups with creative tools to enhance education and promote hands-on learning.
Results: RAFT is an innovative nonprofit (501c3) pursuing the advancement of hands-on learning in our schools. It was founded in San Jose, California in 1994 as the creation of Mary Simon, who continues to lead the organization. The RAFT programs serve 10,000 teacher members at the two sites. The organization operates on a $3 million annual budget used to operate programs and subsidize teachers, providing needed tools for teaching, and professional development opportunities. * Hundreds of Innovative Idea Sheets, tied to CA state standards are posted on the RAFT web site, * 50,000 classroom kits (assembled by volunteers) are provided each year for state-standard aligned activities.
Target demographics: Pre-K through 12th grade teachers. Many children learn best through the exercise of tactile and kinesthetic senses. RAFT provides hands-on teaching tools for over 800,000 students throughout the Bay Area.
Direct beneficiaries per year: 7.500 teachers throughout the Bay Area
Geographic areas served: Greater San Francisco Bay Area with affiliates in Sacramento, CA and Denver, CO
Programs: RAFT collects the surplus items from local businesses and transforms them into learning materials in math, science and art. RAFT also offers professional classes for teachers to improve their hands-on teaching skills. 600 teachers come to our facility each week to gather supplies and learn new teaching techniques.
2010 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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EIN 77-0365627
408-451-1420
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

I love this place so much! It’s an excellent resource for affordable hands-on educational activities that I can do with my kids. As a homeschooler with three kids I have a very limited budget and RAFT provides great materials and engaging lessons to work with. If you’re a teacher and haven’t been to RAFT, you must go! They also have an online store that’s good for buying their kits and getting them shipped to anywhere in the world and you don’t even have to be a member! It is also a great place to volunteer and the staff is very friendly.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

 
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Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 5 stars  

For the last several years I have been involved with setting up craft projects for a Girl Scout camp. We absolutely could not provide the number or the quality of projects that we do without the materials we get from RAFT. Not only do they have great prices on craft supplies, they have unusual materials that are discards from manufacturing and they provide tools such as die-cuts and laminating. RAFT is a valuable asset to the community. They recycle unwanted items and even come up with inventive ways to use them. The employees and volunteers are very dedicated to helping teachers and students. I love RAFT!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Hands-on learning is getting more difficult as education dollars are cut and RAFT makes it easy to find low cost materials. I have taken classes at RAFT and I am continually impressed with the ingenuity and creativity of the RAFT staff.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-9-01

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

RAFT is an amazing resource for educators and I wish every community had an organization like this. They save teachers huge amounts of money in supplies, save the aggravation of trying to find and collect enough cast-offs for a project, and provide businesses an easy way to turn trash into some teachers treasure. Two recent examples: I needed working gears for a classroom of young students to experience hands-on how gears work. Looking online it would have cost hundreds of dollars to outfit the class in any commercially available gears. I attempted making them by hand at home with cardboard, following the instructions found online, and spent many frustrating hours creating TWO clumsy gears. Then I went to RAFT, where they had a die-cut that makes gears and helped me find a bin of foam material that worked in the die-cut to create a working gear...and cost $1 for a large bag. A few hours and a few dollars later, I had several hundred working gears which I can reuse for years in my classes.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My classes. They have benefited greatly because I have been able to provide lessons I could not have afforded and might not have thought of otherwise.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Publicize it more and encourage the general public to recycle standard items there. Create a blueprint for how similar organizations can be set up in other communities and states. Create a lending library for larger and more expensive items.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Finding cheap materials and easy solutions to classroom dilemmas.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Helpful, informed, creative and very friendly.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

expand throughout the state and provide materials to thousands more teachers.

Ways to make it better...

I did sign up once for a workshop that was canceled, which is always disappointing. I'm not sure how often that happens.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

I'm not aware of all their challenges, but certainly space must be one of them. They can only offer as many materials as they can fit. And of course, money is a challenge for everyone these days.

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-9-01

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

RAFT is truly a great resource for people working with children. The idea sheets and prepackaged kits makes it easy to fully engage students in hands-on learning. There are all kinds of treasures for practically nothing... a gently used swivel chair for $10, 33 zippered cases that make nice pencil cases for only $1, colorful stickers for $.25 per sheet, it's endless. My students are fascinated with the silkworms RAFT gives away. The Green Room staff and diecut library are tremendously helpful. And if that isn't enough, there are Milano cookies in the vending machine and free coffee and cookies where you walk it. My teacher friends and I love RAFT!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Their San Jose location, on-line and in workshops RAFT has provided to our school district.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Not change a thing.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Inspirational goodies for cheap.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Helpful, humorous, creative.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Expand.

Ways to make it better...

If nothing.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

RAFT is dealing with a lot of stuff... many many items.

One thing I'd also say is that...

RAFT is great!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-9-01

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

I am a teacher who is a dreamer, a scientist, an environmentalist, an artist, a sticker collector, a book lover, etc. When I first stepped into RAFT when it was in its infancy, it was like walking into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory! It has since changed the way I have taught all of the grades I have taught...preschool to sixth grade. Their workshops are hands-on, friendly, and a bargain (they give you tons of materials when you leave any workshop). On top of it all, I can't believe Mary Simon is working at the San Jose store-ready to help you understand the materials better. She, to me, is a hero and a celebrity for thinking up such a wonderful way to recycle products from companies. I think RAFT should expand all around the world. I would love to see it happen.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My class is what it is due to RAFT's affordable prices. I try to tell everyone about RAFT, but they have to see it to believe it, I feel.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

go all around the world!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-9-01

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

RAFT is not just for great stuff. They also hold terrific workshops for teachers. But my favorite is the wonderful instruction sheets they provide that show exactly how to use the recycled materials in the classroom. On top of that, they also bundle the kits in class size packages. Can't be more friendly to teachers than that. Great science and art stuff, truly great place.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

using the materials and taking the classes.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-5-01

 
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Rating: 4 stars  

Raft has allowed me to support the educational needs of my students and lets me be super creative while on a budget!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

being a teacher with numerous classroom needs.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

create more of them!

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the variety of materials, ideas to use and quantity,

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

helpful and fun.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

bring some extraordinary speakers, materials and innovation to area school districts... It could host hands on student learning and be a field trip destination.

Ways to make it better...

I could attend more workshops.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

keeping enough stock for the amount of demand

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-9-01

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

RAFT has a ton of inspirational ideas and the materials to create them. As a sub, I don't want to spend a lot of money on classroom projects, but I want to have one in my back pocket to fill slack time and reward early finishers. And, since many of the items are recycled from local businesses, it's green as well!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my work in classrooms. Kids love hands on projects!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-6-01

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

RAFT has given me great ideas for so many projects, from the paper tape solar system to habitability dice. It's just such a great resource for creativity in the classroom.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Allowing me to test out ideas cheaply

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Soooo helpful! They came up with great ideas.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

expand across the country!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-7-01

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

I am a 4th grade teacher in San Jose an visit RAFT often to buy materials from thew warehouse, get ideas for lessons, and use their production room. Because I do not receive any funds from the school for supplies to use in my classroom, RAFT saves me a lot of money by offering things like paper, craft supplies, and hands-on science kits for very little money. Every time I go there, I come out with a new idea on how to get my students more engaged in their learning. I usually leave with something I can use right away! The staff is always helpful and will give me endless ideas.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the unlimited ideas that add to my teaching and students' experiences, whether it's attending a workshop, finding creative uses for the donated items, idea sheets, engaging project ideas, or kits.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

being surprised every time I go into their warehouse. I have never left empty-handed or empty-minded1

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

helpful and knowledgeable about education.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

serve so many teachers, especially those at disadvantaged school that are always in need of ways to make learning more engaging and fun for the students.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-9-01

 
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