Teachers have enough to worry about in the classroom on a daily basis, let alone having to dip into their own finances to pay for necessary supplies. But, unfortunately, that’s where we are in 2019, as on average teachers in the U.S. spend $740 of their own money to pay for regular classroom supplies each year.
Recently, the nonprofit Adopt a Classroom partnered with Burlington to help alleviate this issue by offering a $100,000 donation to school teachers in New York City. Stage and screen actor, Taye Diggs, made an appearance at the New York Department of Education to announce this donation and to also announce that Burlington will be taking $1 donations from customers until August 17 to help teachers all over the country to pay for their much-needed supplies. We spoke with the actor ahead of his appearance and about his dedication to this cause.
What initially drew you to Adopt A Classroom?
I grew up with education being a major component in how I was raised. I attribute it to how I am and where I am right now. My mother homeschooled us for a little while and then started teaching outside of the family and still continues to teach today. She’s also in school herself getting a doctorate. I have a sister who is a teacher and I teach myself, so education has always been very, very important to me. It’s something that rings true in my life and continues to. I thought that I would partner with Adoptaclassroom.org and Burlington to help raise money for school supplies for these kids. A lot of teachers are ending up paying for their student’s supplies out of their own pockets. We’re trying to raise awareness and money so this stops.
While this organization is doing something so important, it’s such a shame that it has to come to this.
For someone like me, I have to focus on the positive because it’s enough to really infuriate you. I have to not focus on the negative because it really angers me. I’m the type of guy where I need to take this energy and focus it in a more positive manner. Organizations like this, for me personally and selfishly, help me feel like I can actually do something about this as opposed to feeling helpless or beating somebody up (laughs).
Teachers do not get paid enough as it is. It’s such a shame that they are not being helped to pay for much- needed supplies in their classrooms.
Yeah, 100%. People that should actually be getting paid more, it’s almost as if they’re being punished. Burlington is being so generous in starting this whole thing out with donating $100,000 to a bunch of schools in the New York area. We’re hoping that people can follow suit and find the nearest Burlington company and donate a $1 more up until August, 17 to help us put an end to this craziness.
Do you hope that this grassroots effort will send a message to Betsy DeVos to say that this problem is something she cannot ignore?
Absolutely. I’m a huge fan of energy and I truly believe that you can start something really small, and if it’s coming from the place, it can build. Regardless of the state of our nation and our government, I think people will be surprised at how we, as a people, can join together and get sh-t done. Once people realize what’s going on, people are gonna join hands and we’ll figure this out and get it done ourselves. It’s unfortunate, but I have an abundant amount of faith in people. People, no matter where they are or where they stand politically, you can’t argue with education. We need to get these kids the supplies they need. We need to stop these teachers to stop digging into their wallets in order to help their own students. I’m very encouraged that people will figure this out and help out. It’s something I’m very passionate about and I have no doubt that other people will match our passion as well.