What We Do
RAFT develops STEAM kits and lesson plans, which inspire students to learn through hands on activities.
Low Cost Supplies
RAFT provides donated and recycled supplies at reduced costs to educators.
RAFT designs and builds hands on learning spaces in schools and supplies them with materials and lesson plans.
RAFT works with educators to integrate hands-on, student-led activities in the learning environment.
Who We Are
RAFT partners with the education ecosystem and corporations to support the development and implementation of hands on learning.
RAFT supports educators and system leadership from the State, County, District and School communities of practice in STEAM.
RAFT engages with more than 50 organizations in ongoing volunteer engagements both onsite and offsite to deepen our partners engagement in hands on learning.
RAFT is the leading innovator of the upcycling of materials to be utilized in the design and production of hands on learning activities both during and after school.
Who We Serve
RAFT serves educators of all types—classroom teachers, early educators, after school program providers, youth and community club leaders, and home educators. With a RAFT membership the addition of STEAM activities and idea sheets can enhance your students’ interest in learning. Anyone who is an educator can join RAFT!
We’re better together…
RAFT has countless partners & supporters, and we wouldn’t be here without them.
RAFT started with an idea.
- Every child could get excited about learning through collaborative hands-on activities?
- Every educator could obtain low-cost materials and the training to use them in hands-on projects?
- 21st Century learning skills developed through hands-on education could become pervasive and improve educational outcomes?
RAFT’s mission is to help educators transform a child’s learning experience through hands on education to one that inspires the joy and discovery of learning. We are doing this today in the Bay Area with some 8,000 educators, who teach both inside and outside the classroom. RAFT’s products (Activity Kits & Idea Sheets), services (professional development and mentoring) and low-cost teaching supplies enrich and improve the education of over 600,000 young people each year.
RAFT translates abstract and complex subjects by incorporating activities that help children learn by doing. This ignites their interest, nurtures their natural curiosity, and also helps maintain a lifelong love of learning.
RAFT helps overcome the barriers to hands on education. RAFT develops innovative hands on project Idea Sheets and pre-packaged Activity Kits created around important concepts in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as well as language arts and other subjects. These Idea Sheets and Activity Kits conform to California Education Standards. RAFT also empowers educators through professional development activities like workshops and mentoring.
RAFT Needs your Support
To make hands on instruction affordable, RAFT underwrites its education activities through grant and donor support. To provide kits and materials at low cost, the organization has developed an innovative supply chain process that converts commonly found or discarded materials from the corporate community into hands on Activity Kits with the help of thousands of volunteers.
A Certified Green organization, RAFT provides an abundance of inexpensive materials while helping to preserve the environment. We are proud to receive many outstanding reviews on Great Nonprofits.
1994 - 1998
1994 – Resource Area For Teaching (RAFT) is registered as a non-profit.
RAFT registers as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. RAFT was formed!
1995 – RAFT opens doors to Educators.
In March, RAFT opens its doors to teachers with Idea Sheets, materials and other resources. RAFT welcomes 100 members on its first day and is 1,000 members strong by December. Armed with 40-50 Idea Sheets, RAFT also introduces Activity Kits made from repurposed and recycled materials.
1996 – RAFT holds first workshop for Educators.
RAFT presents its first workshop for educators in the rented Sunnyvale facility. Today RAFT Bay Area locations conduct more than 10 workshops a month.
1997 – RAFT moves location to accommodate more hands-on resources.
Due to construction in the area, RAFT moves to a nearby warehouse (24,000 square feet). This move expands RAFT’s space to hold more resources as well as makes the Board think of purchasing a permanent home.
1998 – RAFT Board approves campaign to buy a permanent home.
RAFT merges with “Resource Connections” (another nonprofit) and begins to accept and refurbish computer equipment. The Board approves a $5 million Capital Campaign to raise funds to purchase a permanent home.
1999 - 2003
1999 – RAFT moves into its new home.
RAFT moves into its new home, just steps away from the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Purchase and renovations to the new building are made possible with help from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. RAFT welcomes 3,000+ members to its new location.
2000 – 13 School districts join RAFT; RAFT opens new Tech Center.
Alum Rock Union School District is the first district to pay for its teachers to join RAFT, followed by 12 other districts. To accommodate the surge in membership, RAFT expands its open hours to five days a week. In June, RAFT celebrates the opening of its new Computer Lab, made possible with seed funds from Cisco and the Community Foundation Silicon Valley. The state-of-the-art lab features computers donated by IBM and networking equipment from Cisco. RAFT exceeds the halfway mark in its Capital Campaign, raising $2.5 million.
2001 – RAFT reaches financial goal.
RAFT completes its Capital Campaign to raise funds to purchase a permanent home and reaches its financial goal five million.
2002 – RAFT opens the Green Room – a creative workspace for Members.
With a challenge grant from National Semiconductor, RAFT adds the Green Room, a creative workspace where RAFT members have access to equipment, ideas and expert assistance. In addition, the Board approves moving forward with replication of RAFT-licensing other groups to use our name and logo for building RAFTs in other communities/ cities.
2003 – RAFT takes over Teach the Teacher program/ increases hours.
RAFT once again increases its hours to accommodate members. At Adobe’s request, RAFT takes over their Teach the Teacher program. The program provided Adobe software classes free for educators.
2004 - 2008
2004 – RAFT reaches more than 5,500 members.
RAFT membership reaches over 5,500 members! More then 1,000 businesses donate money, materials and time to suport RAFT. Interest to have a RAFT in other cities continues to grow.
2005 – RAFT Membership grows by 40%.
RAFT membership grows by 40% and services over 7,300 members. Plans to launch RAFT Sacramento.
2006 – RAFT renovates current facility to upgrade amenities / services for Members.
RAFT renovates current Ridder Park Drive facility adding a third classroom, new entrance, additional shopping space, and a membership welcome desk.
2007 – John Sobrato donates a warehouse to RAFT; RAFT Sacramento opens.
John Sobrato donates a $5M warehouse in Sunnyvale. RAFT launches a capital campaign to raise $2 million to renovate the Sobrato Volunteer and Processing center in Sunnyvale.
2008 – RAFT launches plan for expansion in Bay Area.
RAFT plans to launch a facility in Redwood City with services similar to RAFT Bay Area.
2009 - 2013
2009 – RAFT Redwood City and RAFT Colorado opens.
RAFT opens for members in Redwood City, California and Denver, Colorado
2010 – Expanded Math & Science coverage.
RAFT completed the coverage of K-12 Math and K-8 Science curriculum. We now had a hands-on activity aligned with every California standard.
2011 – RAFT launches online store / Introduces the Science Institute Program.
RAFT expands its presence on the web by launching a RAFT online store selling Educational Activity Kits. RAFT adds the Science Institute program to the existing Math Institute & Innovation Institute series.
2012 – Increased partner activity with organizations such as Scholastic.
RAFT is featured in NYSCi book: Design, Make, Play – Growing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators.
2013 – Activities Aligned to Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards
RAFT completes mapping of 700+ Idea Sheets to new national curriculum standards and launches early childhood education program. Scholastic publishes first co-branded kit, You Can Make a Rainbow.
2014 – RAFT Celebrates 20th Anniversary, New Leadership
Organization turned 20 in March and Mary Simon retires after 20 years as executive director. In May, Grainger Marburg joins as new CEO. Volunteers build 500,000th hands-on Activity Kit and RAFT Colorado commemorates the 5th anniversary after moving to a new warehouse in Denver.
The RAFT Team
Chief Executive Officer
Chief Operations Officer
Senior Director of Education
Chief Development Officer
Board of Directors
Webb McKinney, Chair
Nigel Ball, Vice Chair
Brenda Peffer, Secretary
Kathy Yates, Treasurer
Children learn so much better when they’re touching something or seeing it happen. I create the questions and let them find the answers. So they own their learning that way, and it’s there and it stays.The very best days of teaching are when I can step back and let the learning happen.
The affordable workshops offered at RAFT are invaluable. I've enjoyed a variety of subjects including grant writing, book making, math centers, team building and my favorite - the Innovation Institute! I've walked away with tools and supplies I can use in the classroom every time. Meeting other educators has also
provided a chance to network and share ideas. I have implemented many of RAFT's hands-on learning activities into our kindergarten curriculum. You can feel the students’ excitement when they are actively engaged. Hands-on learning has many benefits including adding interest, improving retention and developing problem solving and collaboration skills. RAFT continually works to improve and provide services/products to help us meet the changing needs of our students.
I really love RAFT because it brings together resources from the whole Bay Area, things that are leftover or could be trash, and brought to this place where really intelligent, creative educators put them together as a lesson plan or as a project idea. From talking with experienced teachers I know that I’m not the
only one getting these “aha moments.” There are so many great things. The way the RAFT teachers share, we are getting tips for classroom management and how to help the kids process and work with their thinking so they can create, explore, build, and make things better, so that the whole optimization that we do in the real world, they can start doing even at a younger age.
RAFT is an unknown gem and I wish more teachers knew about it. The kits are great and coming to RAFT helps you to use your creative mind. When I use hands-on in the classroom I can just see the kids’ faces light up like they’re doing something fun and it’s going to engage them, and they have something to
take home and say “hey mom, look what I made today!” The students actively ask questions and they have a blast. RAFT’s Summer Institutes are fun; they engage me, they engage other teachers, and they open my mind to what I can bring to my classroom to get the students engaged and think outside the box. We all learn together.