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DFW teachers find free classroom resources through the Welman Project

DFW teachers find free classroom resources through the Welman Project

July 23
09:00 2021

The Welman Project, a Fort Worth-based nonprofit organization, offers opportunities for teachers to have supplies for their students’ educational experience at no expense.

Granted official nonprofit status in January of 2016, the project serves as a free resource by distributing surplus materials from local companies and individual donations to inspire creative reuse in the classroom. These items range from arts and crafts to desk chairs and other furniture.

“The resources are out there,” said Vanessa Barker, Welman co-founder and creative director. “People, specifically businesses, are tossing away perfectly great things that teachers need into the landfills. It’s not because they’re irresponsible, there just isn’t really a resource for the types of things businesses are throwing away, whether that be a giant warehouse of staplers or a giant warehouse full of tiny airplane parts — both of which we have gotten before.”

Barker first noticed the corporate waste of excess materials when helping at a preschool in San Francisco while also working as an assistant project manager for New York Fashion Week.

“I noticed the lack of resources in the school I was at and an abundance of materials that were just getting tossed after these 15-minute fashion shows,” Barker said.

Barker then returned to her hometown of Fort Worth and reunited with her childhood best friend Taylor Willis, Welman Project co-founder and executive director. In 2008, the two set out in to pursue their passion for the environment and giving back to the community and school districts they grew up in.

“We try to work one-on-one with teachers because every classroom is different,” Willis told the Fort Worth Magazine. “[E]very teacher has different goals for what they’re trying to accomplish.”

The Welman Project works with educators and staff in the Fort Worth independent school district, as well as in public, private and accredited charter schools across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Nonprofit private schools can also become eligible to receive aid. To receive donations from the organization, proof of employment in the education sector is all that is required.

“It’s just a really cool resource for teachers to check out,”f said Adam Desmond, teacher at Jean McClung Middle School. “Teachers tend to spend their own money on their classrooms because some don’t get budgets at their schools. This is a really cool way for teachers to provide for their students without having to spend it out of their own pocket.”

Desmond has been utilizing the Welman Project ever since he won a lottery at a teacher’s event that granted him access to Welman’s resources.

“I went in and couldn’t believe that all of these school supplies — pencils, pens, boards, glue and hand sanitizer beforehand sanitizer was cool — were available,” Desmond said. “As a theater teacher, I need the typical school supplies, but then I also need a whole bunch of weird stuff for props, costumes and [the Welman Project has] a ton of interesting little things.”

Educators can pick up supplies at 3950 W. Vickery Blvd in Fort Worth. The location is open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday to Friday and 9 a.m to 6 p.m. on the weekend.

Donations to the Welman Project are accepted by appointment only. People interested in further supporting the project can volunteer to sort incoming donations.

“Teachers never stop working,” Barker said. “It’s summertime — why are teachers shopping with us? They should be enjoying their time off and recuperating from a really hard year. Yet they’re so focused on getting stuff ready for their classrooms.”

More information can be found at thewelmanproject.org, including accepted donation items, how to schedule a donation appointment and how to sign up to volunteer.

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Natalie Ochoa

Natalie Ochoa

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