Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap Announces Closure

Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap Announces Closure

October 15, 2019

After five years of bringing free instructional supplies to Baltimore-area teachers, child-care workers, and youth development organizations, the Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap (“The Swap”) announces it will be closing its doors due to funding issues. As founder and Executive Director Melissa Badeker prepares for a planned departure, The Swap’s Board of Directors recognize that budgetary concerns make it difficult to find a replacement that can lead The Swap into its next chapter of serving the Baltimore community.

“Melissa created an amazing community asset for Baltimore educators,” said Board President Mary Biscoe-Hall. “The Swap has supported over 2,000 teachers since we first opened our doors. Despite our best efforts to apply for grants, raise money, and adjust budgets, we’re facing our worst-case scenario with closing The Swap, effective November 30th.”

The Swap has enjoyed local and even national support for its mission. Since its founding, Badeker has secured over $130,000 in grants from funders such as the T. Rowe Price Foundation and the Abell Foundation. In 2017, The Swap was featured on “Returning the Favor”, a national giving initiative hosted by social media giant, Facebook, and TV personality, Mike Rowe. In their inaugural show, The Swap received a complete redesign of their former store space, $20,000 in brand new classroom supplies, and a year’s worth of pre-paid rent.\

Additionally in 2017, local small business, Len the Plumber, donated a box truck to help The Swap take supplies on the road. Transformed into the colorfully decorated Supply Mobile, The Swap has transported $79,000 worth of supplies directly to Baltimore’s neediest schools.

The Swap has stopped accepting donations of instructional materials. Members of the Swap may visit the Swap’s free store on Thursdays from 3:00pm to 6:00pm and Saturdays from 11am to 2pm through October 31. If supplies remain, The Swap will be open to the general public, as well as members, only on Saturday, November 2 and Saturday, November 9, 2019.

“The Swap has been actively looking for community partners to help us continue our mission,” explained Biscoe-Hall. “While we’ve had serious interest from one particular non-profit, we have been unable to reach an agreement.”

Educational funding problems are not unique to The Swap. In June of this year, Baltimore City Public School’s CEO Sonja Santelises announced a $129 million deficit in the school system’s budget.

“Base per-pupil funding in Baltimore City has fallen by about $150 per student over the last couple of fiscal years,” explained Board Member Alessa Giampaolo Keener. “We see some schools spending less than one-percent of their budgets on instructional supplies. We know that teachers spend their own hard-earned dollars buying materials for their classrooms. People agree: A need exists for organizations such as The Swap. Unfortunately, without adequate funding, we cannot continue.”

Frequently Asked Questions About The Swap’s Closure

Like many small nonprofits, the Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap has been operating on an extremely small budget for the past 5 years. Despite our best efforts, we have not been able to secure adequate funding to continue operations.

At this time, The Swap has stopped accepting new paid memberships and  is unable to offer any refunds on existing memberships fees. Individuals with currently active memberships are encouraged to visit The Swap over the next few weeks. There are no “shopping” restrictions for members who visit The Swap from today, until we close.

The Swap’s store will remain open until Saturday November 9, 2019 – or until all donated items have been picked up by members, whichever comes sooner. Please check our website and Facebook page for updates on our final closing date.

No, The Swap will not accept ay more donations at this time.

No. As The Swap continues to work towards shutting down daily operations, we are no longer scheduling Supply Mobile visits to deliver instructional materials directly to schools.

The Board of Directors has not yet made a final decision about what will happen to the Supply Mobile.

Effective November 30th, The Swap will no longer have a lease to remain in our space at the Warehouse. In order to close operations, we have stopped accepting donations of instructional supplies. The Swap’s last day open to the public will be Saturday, November 7th. The remaining time will be spent clearing out our space and vacating the premises by the last day of November.

The Swap has three paid employees. Our Executive Director’s planned departure will be effective October 18. Our Program Coordinator will remain in her paid position until the end of November. Our AmeriCorps VISTA paid volunteer will be reassigned to a new nonprofit to finish out his 1-year contract.

The Board of Directors are working on closing up operations of the Free Store and the Supply Mobile. A decision will be made shortly about those items.

There are no current plans for The Swap to re-open at this time.

There is no current plan for The Swap to merge with another organization at this time. The Board is happy to talk with other nonprofits or funding organizations who are interested in keeping The Swap’s programs alive and available to Baltimore City educators. Interested organizations may reach out to Board member Alessa Giampaolo Keener at alessa@teachersupplyswap.org to discuss options.

Volunteers will be needed to help with the final clear out of our free store space. If you would like to volunteer your time with the final clean up, please contact our Program Director, Kay Harvey at kay@teachersupplyswap.org.

Want to Help?

Find out how to donate supplies or volunteer your time to support teachers and families.