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National Retail Foundation finds cost of school supplies is at an all-time high

: [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: In the audio of this story, as in the previous web version, we incorrectly say the survey was issued by the National Retail Foundation. The correct name of the organization is the National Retail Federation.]


It's that time of year again - back-to-school season. And as parents and teachers fill their carts with supplies, they might experience a jolt of sticker shock.


In a recent survey, the National Retail Foundation found families with children in elementary through high school planned to spend a little more than $890. That's up from last year's record, which was already an all-time high.

FADEL: Corey Gordon is CEO of the Kids In Need Foundation. It's a nonprofit that works with students and teachers from underresourced schools across the country.

MARTIN: For Gordon, this line of work is personal. He knows the feeling of walking into a classroom empty-handed, and he wants to keep other kids from having to go through that.

COREY GORDON: It's really not their issue. It's not their problem to solve something that we, as adults, need to do, just like adults stepped into my life to assist me.

FADEL: Inflation and supply chain issues are just some of the factors driving up costs for students and parents, and they're not the only ones taking a hit. Some teachers are using their own money to make sure students have the tools they need.

MARTIN: Gordon says it's the basics - pencils and notebooks - that help ensure a student's success.

GORDON: It's those core, basic, essential items that really are what is needed the most and what teachers actually wind up spending the most money paying for. So even, you know, those basic types of things are the tools of the trade, so to speak, for the kids when they're in school.

FADEL: Carmen Daniels also works to get school supplies to those who need them. She's a resource coordinator at Hays-Porter School in Cincinnati.

CARMEN DANIELS: One of my third-grade teacher - he calls me the director of procurement. He'll say, Ms. Daniels, I need this. Can you go get it? And I really do try my best, you know, to get it for our school.

FADEL: Daniels helps connect students, teachers and parents with a nonprofit called Crayons To Computers that gathers donated classroom supplies for distribution to classrooms in need.

MARTIN: She will arrange shopping trips where they can stock up for a small access fee.

DANIELS: They'll have games and prizes and stuff that you can win. And it's just a fun environment when you go shopping. And it's always good when you don't have to pay when you leave. Just to see the relief on someone's face - not having to worry about something that I have available - it's a blessing.

FADEL: And that can make the start of the school year a little less stressful for teachers, parents and students. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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