Treasures 4 Teachers happy teacher with full shopping cart
Treasures 4 Teachers School Supplies for Under-Resourced Students

Treasures 4 Teachers (T4T) allows teachers to provide their students with the school supplies they lack. One might think this nonprofit should therefore be named “Treasures 4 Students,” but in actuality, it hurts teachers to see their students without the materials they need to succeed in the classroom. T4T understands that for educators, a ready supply of pencils and other school supplies for their students is like finding buried treasure. After all, a teacher’s purpose in life is to educate, and in large measure Treasures 4 Teachers helps to make that happen.

Kids who lack school supplies come from homes where parents struggle to pay rent and utilities and put food on the table. There’s little left, if anything, to buy school supplies. At the same time, the only way under-resourced children can have a fighting chance at breaking free from poverty and getting ahead, is to get a decent education. Treasures 4 Teachers offers these students a chance at a brighter future, and we are pleased to lend modest assistance to the T4T mission by way of our small grants program.

We put some questions to Treasures 4 Teachers Director of Development Christopher Cordes to learn more about this work:

Kars4Kids: Can you tell us a bit about the story behind Treasures 4 Teachers? Who founded Treasures 4 Teachers and why?

Christopher Cordes: In 2004, Barbara Blalock worked for the Valley of the Sun YMCA as their senior regional preschool director. The challenge she faced was the fact that the preschools did not have the funds to purchase some of the needed items to meet the requirements of the NAEYC accreditation standards; items such as binders, desk trays, markers, staplers, tape dispensers, and other expensive office supplies.

Barbara contacted Intel Corporation and asked if they had surplus office supplies that they would consider donating to the YMCA preschool programs. Intel generously began donating used office supplies. Barbara would gather these supplies, store them in her garage, and go to each preschool to disperse the supplies.

It wasn’t long before other companies started donating. Motorola, IKEA, Wells Fargo, SRP, APS, The NFL, and Goodrich jumped on board to donate their surplus supplies as they went paperless, downsized, or closed offices.

Barbara’s garage was bursting at the seams, so she decided it was time to make her dream of providing a “Reusable Resource Center” for teachers in Arizona called Treasures 4 Teachers come true.

Invitation Homes Donation Pictures Treasures 4 Teachers


Kars4Kids: Can you tell us more about the expansion and growth of your operation since its humble beginnings in Barbara Blalock’s two-car garage?

Christopher Cordes: In 2010, Treasures 4 Teachers had grown from the size of a 2-car garage to a 10,000-square-foot warehouse full of resources for teachers. In a short period of time, the organization quickly outgrew the 5,000 square foot space and is now located in an ample 20,000 square foot space filled with resources for teachers generously donated by individuals and businesses across the Valley. Through its Teacher Resource Creative Reuse Centers in Tempe, west Phoenix, and Tucson, T4T serves nearly 8,000 member educators who shop for free and low-cost classroom supplies with their annual membership. Our mobile program, T4T on Wheels, takes free school supplies to another 3,750 Title 1 teachers throughout Maricopa County, reaching more than 100,000 students. A component of the mobile program, T4T for Kids, provides basic needs supplies in the form of essential care hygiene kits for students in greatest need.

Treasures 4 Teachers shelves of school supplies

Kars4Kids: Is a lack of basic supplies a common problem among Arizona students? What percent of students are showing up to class without school supplies?

Christopher Cordes: There are 1,300 Title 1 schools in Arizona where most students qualify for free and reduced lunch programs. These students often come from families that are struggling financially, sometimes even being homeless or unable to provide for their children’s basic needs. Research shows that children in unstable living situations are much more likely to miss school, fall behind, and even drop out. T4T on Wheels combats this issue by ensuring that all students have the supplies they need to learn successfully in the classroom. 64% of the students from the Title 1 Schools we service have zero access to supplies.


Kars4Kids: Beyond paper, pencils, and other basic school supplies, what kinds of materials are on offer for members of Treasures 4 Teachers? What would you say are the most popular items beyond the basics?

Christopher Cordes: STEAM-related supplies are needed and desired the most. Items like art supplies (new and used), lab equipment (beakers, flasks, test tubes, PVC pipe, wire, raw materials (fabric pieces), and wood pieces.

Merry the Cranberry

Kars4Kids: In addition to the supplies you offer, you offer other resources, for example your “What can it be” worksheet for teachers. Can you tell us about this worksheet and about your other educator resources?

Christopher Cordes: What can it be is centered in creative reuse. We ask teachers and students to think about what alternate and inspired items can be made with scraps or other materials. For example, see the rocket car created out of old CDs, a balloon, foam board, and straws.

Treasures 4 Teachers idea: car from old CDs

Kars4Kids: How many educators do you currently serve?

Christopher Cordes: 8,042

Kars4Kids: How much does it cost to take advantage of the classroom materials you offer?

Christopher Cordes: $35 annually.

Treasure 4 Teachers Pinnacle Pop-Up kids enjoy activities created from donated supplies

Kars4Kids: Are all the items you offer, donated? Who donates these supplies?

Christopher Cordes: All of the used items are donated by individuals or organizations. Our new supplies are donated by individuals or organizations and we also purchase some new core items with the monetary donations we receive.

Treasure 4 Teachers Pinnacle Pop-Up

Kars4Kids: What about educators who don’t live in close proximity to your warehouses? Is there a way for them to access T4T supplies?

Christopher Cordes: T4T on Wheels has been delivering school supplies to teachers and students throughout the valley for 11 years. With the addition of a dedicated vehicle, delivery of the program is much more streamlined, increasing capacity to assist teachers and students beyond school supplies. Through this program we deliver resources to 25 schools and 1,250 teachers.

Treasures 4 Teachers traveling store

Kars4Kids: What’s next for Treasures 4 Teachers?

Christopher Cordes: We are looking to expand our reach by increasing our warehouse space so we can receive and distribute a higher quantity of supplies. We are also creating more awareness within the educator community by partnering on a more significant level with schools, districts, and teacher associations. We hope to serve all educators and classrooms in need in Maricopa County, as we are currently only serving 20% of the education ecosystem in our service area.

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