City kicks off campaign to raise money for school supplies

Got money? Help a Philadelphia school afford workbooks, paper and other educational materials.

That was the pitch from Mayor Nutter on Wednesday, who announced the formation of the “Philadelphia Education Supplies Fund” to raise money for the cash-strapped Philadelphia School District schools, as well as the city’s charter schools and Catholic schools.

“This is a great opportunity to support children in the city,” Nutter said at a City Hall press conference. “I’ve heard from so many people who are interested in helping and getting involved in education for children.”

The goal is to raise $500,000 by Oct 15 and $2.5 million over five years, Nutter said. The city is kicking in $200,000 from its general fund to start, with a promise of $1 million over five years, he said.

The Maguire Foundation, a West Conshohocken-based private foundation that supports education in the region, will give $100,000 over five years.

The fund will be administered by the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. To donate, go to:

“Everyone can do something,” Nutter said, calling on non-profits, businesses and the philanthropic community at large to participate. “I’ll take $5.”

Nutter said the funding will be key especially later in the school year as supplies run low. Lack of supplies has been a longstanding struggle for schools even before the latest budget crisis, he said.

“Even in the best times, there were challenges to make sure there were enough supplies at every school,” agreed Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite Jr., speaking about his prior experience as a teacher, principal and district administrator in other school systems.

District teachers receive $100 a year for supplies, he said. But he recently talked with a teacher who already spent that allotment getting supplies for the start of school.

The new fund, he said, will be a “welcome announcement” to educators across the district.

The 134,000-student school district opened schools on Monday with less staff and resources as it continues to cope with a deficit. The district is seeking $133 million in givebacks from its unions to help close the gap.

Nutter said it’s to be determined how the money will be distributed, but will be worked out by the United Way, the district, charter schools and Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

“Let’s see what the requests are, what the needs are,” he said.