A Galesburg business is launching a program to help teachers provide supplies in cash-strapped schools.
The latest Illinois budget makes the effort even more timely.
Illinois schools are bracing to do even more with less. That's after the state budget sliced some $210 million from education. It's hard on communities and tough on teachers.
"It's heart-wrenching," said NAEIR President and CEO Gary Smith. "It goes to the very core of teaching. Teaching these kids to become productive citizens -- giving them the tools."
That's why workers are stepping into action inside NAEIR's warehouse. The longtime not-for-profit collected $95 million in excess merchandise last year. It sends those products to other organizations. Now, it wants to help teachers.
"We see that there's hope and go so far as to say it's very encouraging," said NAEIR VP Cruz Ramos.
NAEIR hopes to introduce the teacher program within the next six months. There's more information about the company at http://www.naeir.org.
As school districts cut spending, teachers spend more money out of pocket to help kids learn. That figure can reach into hundreds of dollars each year. This program should help them for pennies on the dollar.
"I think this is going to help them make more products available for their students," Ramos said.
NAEIR already works with nearly 500 schools across Illinois and Iowa. This program can be a small step to help cash-strapped schools and teachers.
"I know everybody has tough times," Smith concluded. "But education is the key to the future of this country."
It's a private-sector solution to a very public problem.