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2010 Top-Rated Nonprofit

RAFT (Resource Area for Teaching)

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Adult Education, Education, Elementary & Secondary Schools, Job Training, Literacy

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.

Community Stories

4 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

RAFT offers countless affordable-to-free resources for teachers. I found fabulous science and art lesson/experiment packets that are standards-based with materials for 20 kids already included, awesome materials for projects and cheap books. They have a room with discounted stickers and an area for prepping for projects with hundreds of different die cuts. I can spend hours there just browsing and getting ideas for science, art, math and writing projects. There are great workshops offered as well. I love RAFT! When I retire from teaching, I want to volunteer!


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Today my 3rd graders combined measurement and planning skills, language skills, creativity, and materials that might have been discarded instead of cherished . . . to create monogram cards, each as unique as its artist. It's Halloween week, and we put our capital letters "in costume". Tomorrow my 3rd graders will use their letter-writing skills to personalize their cards, put them in hand-decorated RAFT envelopes, and further the preservation of the hand-written letter as a treasured form of social connection. RAFT provides me kits that match the state's curriculum requirements, completely capture student interest, are affordable in this time of budget cuts, and that I would NEVER have been able to pull together on my own. RAFT offers me workshops that are models of classroom management while teaching activities that enrich my students' creative opportunities. RAFT inspires me with its synthesis and excitement. RAFT offers corporations a lively opportunity to do a wonderful thing for children and the financial advantage of not paying to discard their overages.


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Whenever you see a great organization doing the right things, look behind for a shining star. RAFT is fortunate because founding director Mary Simon is a dedicated individual who strongly believes in what they do. So many children are served each day; things are taken from the waste stream and re-used (not recycled) and everyone wins. I love RAFT!


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This is a great place to get bargain knick-knacks and doo-dads for your classroom. There are also fabulous games and activities in a bag for you to assemble and do in class. All are aligned with the state standards! And so cheap, too!