Founded in San Jose in 1994, RAFT (Resource Area For Teaching) is a nonprofit providing educators with engaging hands-on learning resources aligned to national content standards.

RAFT’s mission is to help parents and educators transform a child’s learning experience through hands-on education. We help bridge the education gap for students and communities by offering engaging STEAM resources to encourage the next generation of innovators, problem solvers, and creators. RAFT does this by providing STEAM Project Kits, Maker Mobile van visits and makerspace builds, STEAM summer camps, tailored educator workshops, and free online learning activity sheets. RAFT’s unique Found Engineering process repurposes donated materials that would have otherwise been sent to the landfill into accessible, low-cost, STEAM Project Kits and assembled by volunteers. Educators, and now parents, can become RAFT members and shop at the warehouse store facility for affordable items devoted to hands-on learning.

Mary Simon, a local teacher, founded RAFT after realizing that recycled materials could be used in the classroom. She convinced many Bay Area companies to donate surplus items otherwise destined for landfills. RAFT developed a sustainable model by innovatively repurposing these materials into activities tied to Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. Over the years, RAFT has enabled thousands of PreK-12 educators to effectively implement hands-on learning techniques that improve STEAM education.

2016 RAFT launches Makerspace Program: Building upon RAFT’s hands-on learning mission, RAFT expands our services to include the design, build, and supply of school makerspaces. A makerspace is an area where students can design, build, and experiment with hands-on STEAM projects.

2017 RAFT diverts over 3 million cubic feet of material from landfill. RAFT collects donations from over 200 material donors in the Bay Area to offer low-cost materials for teacher’s use in their classrooms.

2019 RAFT Celebrate 25th Anniversary

2020 RAFT Mobile and COVID-19 response

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. RAFT expands its presence on the web by launching a RAFT online store selling Educational Activity Kits.

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. Organization turned 20 in 2014 and Mary Simon retires after 20 years as executive director. Volunteers build 500,000th hands-on Activity Kit.

2002 RAFT opens the Resource Center/Green Room (now Educator Workroom) – 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.

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.

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.

Our Mission

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.

Our Vision

RAFT’s vision is to inspire the next generation of innovators, problem solvers, and creators, by providing educators with STEAM learning resources.

Our Values

  • Integrity: RAFT serves the education community and strives to do it with integrity, accountability, honesty, ethics, and fairness.
  • Community: RAFT brings together educators, volunteers, corporations, and donors to accelerate teaching and hands-on learning.
  • Global Impact: RAFT’s innovative management of recycled materials has a positive impact on the local and global environment.
  • Creativity: RAFT’s unique approach to hands-on learning inspires creativity and joy to foster curiosity, exploration, and innovation.

Your Support Helps Educators

We provide recycled and low-cost STEAM learning materials, makerspace support, and professional development workshops for over 8,000 educators and their 150,000 students in the Bay Area and nationwide.