Project: Back to School is Off to a Running Start!

We are about to officially reach the end of summer. Parents all over the country are rushing to fill the ever-growing list of school supplies as their kids search for the perfect backpack, binder and matching notebooks.

And so here at the Coalition, we’re in the midst of our sixth annual Project: Back to School, which has given out more than 10,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to homeless children in New York City since its inception in 2008 – and we are hoping to give out as many as 6,000 more this year alone! Our staff and volunteers are currently unpacking and sorting through thousands of packs of pencils, pens, crayons and other school supplies, customizing each backpack for boys and girls of all grade levels.

Project: Back to School was given an incredible early boost thanks to our long-time partner, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). For the past five years, the UFT has been enthusiastically providing huge quantities of school supplies for the drive. Last December they stepped up their efforts and gave us an exceptional gift of thousands of backpacks already fully loaded with supplies to use in this year’s drive. Because we were still nine months away from the start of school when UFT provided the bags, Manhattan Mini Storage – an invaluable partner to Project: Back to School since day one – immediately offered to store the bags for us until we were ready to distribute them. Within hours, UFT volunteers were graciously unloading hundreds of boxes into their storage units.

Thanks to the generosity of the UFT, Manhattan Mini Storage, and our dedicated volunteers from AIG and Bank of America, we have already been able to distribute over 3,500 backpacks to homeless girls and boys in shelters around the city!

All of this good news could not come at a more critical time. Tonight, more than 21,000 children are sleeping in NYC homeless shelters – far more than at any time since the Great Depression. When I began working with the Coalition five years ago, the number was closer to 15,000 – an already tragic figure that has been sadly eclipsed by the skyrocketing number of men, women and kids forced to sleep in emergency shelter each night as a result of failed City policies.

You can help us make sure that every homeless child has what he or she needs to start school by donating backpacks, pens, filler paper and other necessities at 52 locations around the city, including all Manhattan Mini Storage locations and many of the Brooklyn and Queens public libraries. As your own child is choosing his or her school supplies, or even if you’re just picking up a couple of things at your local drug store, consider adding a few extra items from our wish list. Everything will be sorted and packed to ensure a homeless child in New York can have a successful school year. The drive ends September 20.

The Great Urban Race Fills the CFH Food Pantry



Saturday, August 17th, the Coalition for the Homeless partnered with Red Frog Events and Morton Williams Supermarket to host a donation site for the Coalition’s food pantry as part of the Great Urban Race, a city-wide scavenger hunt. A huge thanks to all the participants for donating hundreds of food items for the homeless and formerly homeless men, women and children in the Coalition’s Scattered Site Housing Program – which houses people living with HIV/AIDs – and Crisis Intervention Program – a walk-in program that provides a wide array of emergency services and referrals to homeless families and individuals. The Coalition helps 3,500 people daily and is always in need of your support to help our homeless neighbors. Workplace drives for food, toys, coats and other specific items are rewarding opportunities to help New York’s neediest and raise awareness of the historic level of NYC’s homeless crisis – with more than 50,000 people, including 21,000 children, sleeping in emergency shelters tonight. To learn more about the Coalition’s programs or how you can set up a drive for needed items, please email


Taneka became homeless almost three years ago following a serious car accident and devastating health diagnosis. When she first came to the Coalition for the Homeless for help, she and her three children were living in a shelter for nearly two years. We immediately enrolled her children in our summer sleep-away camp, Camp Homeward Bound, so they could escape the grim realities of shelter life for a few weeks and just be kids while Taneka underwent medical treatment. Once the Camp season ended, we helped the family apply for food stamps and medical insurance and are now working with them to obtain permanent housing with support services through our Client Advocacy Program.

This video was lovingly made by her teenage daughter as part of a Digital Media Internship at the Coalition.

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