RAFT (Resource Area for Teaching)

Rating: 4.88 stars   40 reviews


1355 Ridder Park Dr San Jose CA 95131 USA


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.


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


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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Reviews for RAFT (Resource Area for Teaching)

Rating: 5 stars  

16 people found this review helpful

I am proud to be on the board of RAFT. This is a great organization that really improves the quality of teaching and learing.

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

The excitement of teachers who come to RAFT

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

Be very proud

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

The talented and motivated staff and the tangible difference that RAFT is making

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

Motivated and competent

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

Grow faster, replicate faster, and serve more teachers

Ways to make it better...

There were RAFTs in every community

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

managing growth

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

RAFT really helps teachers to teach more effectively and is easy and inexpensive for teachers to use

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


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Rating: 5 stars  

15 people found this review helpful

RAFT makes an active and tangible difference in the quality of our children's education. I am so proud to be able to support and endorse them!

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

passionate about the mission and committed to excellence. They know and understand both teachers and students.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


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Rating: 5 stars  

From the very beginning of RAFT, when it was an idea in Mary Simon's wonderful brain, until today when we're working on ways to make the RAFT magic available to the entire world, I've been an enthusiastic, willing participant in everything RAFT does. I've been on the board almost since the beginning and have led two Capital Campaigns, chaired the board and supported all efforts. RAFT is one of the best nonprofits I've ever seen based on it's mission and exciting vision, plus it's creativity in executing that mission. In addition, it is managed in a fiscally responsible manner, enabling a reserve of at least a year's worth of expenses.

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

The many teachers I know are so enthusiastic about RAFT that it appears to sell itself. A friend who runs a large foundation said, "It seems like RAFT sells itself."

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

Find a way for more teachers to benefit from it.

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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I'm a long-time board member of RAFT, having heard of the idea when Mary Simon first thought of starting a nonprofit that would enable teachers to use materials from community businesses to implement hands-on math, science and art projects in their classrooms. When Mary first came to me, I was running a management support organization called the Nonprofit Development Center, helping nonprofit staff and boards to improve their management and leadership skills. We at the NDC thought Mary's idea was so good that we helped her in every way we could to learn what she needed to know to run a nonprofit (Mary was a math teacher by profession). RAFT is now one of the most successful nonprofits in the San Jose area, having set its sights in expanding to reach all educators in the Bay Area, then California and finally nationally. It will happen because of one person's amazing vision and dedication to supporting and enabling excellent teachers and teaching. The beneficiaries are the children who, as we all know, are the future of the country.

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

begin to impact the quality of education on a broader scale, replicating the concept in othe rcommunities.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


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