from San Francisco Chronicle, February 9, 2001
Craig's List Helps With Class Supplies
By Julian Guthrie
Craig's List, a popular Web site tailored to the Bay Area Internet community, launched a program last week aimed at giving teachers a break.
Much like a bridal registry, the new online service allows cash-strapped teachers to create a list of classroom needs. Craig's List subscribers -- there are about 9,000 of them -- are able to peruse the lists and buy items, which are tax-deductible and sold at a 10 percent discount. The goodies are then shipped to the teacher's school.
Craig Newmark, who founded Craig's List as a hobby in 1995, said he got the idea for the teacher registry after learning from a friend who's a teacher that educators regularly spend hundreds of dollars of their own money to buy basic classroom supplies.
"I kept thinking about this and about how teachers' salaries are notoriously low, and I thought, 'This sucks,' " Newmark said. "There should be a commonsense way to help."
The commonsense solution came to Newmark when he was reading a newsletter from one of his favorite stores, Cole Hardware. Newmark operates Craig's List out of his Cole Valley home. He said Cole Hardware has "insanely great customer service."
Rick Karp, president of Cole Hardware, was eager to contribute. He has an impressive record of contributing to San Francisco schools. In 1994, he founded the School and Community Partnership Program, which has provided a host of community-based services to more than 211 schools.
During the first week, the site had more than 50 signups and 20 contributions. All items are available through the Cole Hardware catalog.
The site is also open to staff from nonprofits.
"We'll try to keep it simple and wing it," said Newmark. "We're figuring out how to do it better."
He added, "I'll make some donations myself. It's a good way to spend money. I'm tired of giving to a charity and not knowing where it goes."
Besides, Newmark said, there are hidden rewards. He's gotten very special thank you notes. They're handmade, and from kids.