For the past month, the Coalition’s offices have been overflowing with backpacks, pencils, rulers, crayons and more – thanks to the many generous supporters of our annual school supply drive for homeless kids, Project: Back to School.
Mountains of brand new supplies ready to be packed.
The need could not be greater.
Last year, more than 83,000 NYC school kids experienced homelessness at some point, and tonight alone the number of families sleeping in NYC shelters is at an all-time high of 15,000.
Homeless school kids face enormous challenges: Lack of sleep in noisy and chaotic shelters; long commutes from the shelter to and from school; living in cramped spaces that make completing homework nearly impossible. It is not surprising that less than a quarter of homeless elementary school students are able to keep up with their housed peers in math or reading.
While the Coalition’s youth programs like Camp Homeward Bound (CHB) and Bound for Success (BFS) give homeless school kids the programming and support they need to succeed both in school and in life, sometimes all it takes is something as simple as a nice, new backpack stuffed with school supplies to give a child the confidence he or she needs to start the school year right.
Project: Back to School partners with corporate and community organizations throughout the city to collect the backpacks and school supplies from caring New Yorkers. This year we were proud to work with long-time partners, Manhattan Mini Storage, the United Federation of Teachers and AIG. We also welcomed Huntington Learning Center as a new partner, who helped us expand our drop-off locations to reach all five boroughs for the first time! A special thank you also to Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, the Brooklyn Public Library and JCC Manhattan – as well as to all who hosted drop-off locations again this year. Thanks to you, we were able to collect and distribute more than 4,000 backpacks filled with brand new school supplies to kids in shelters!
We received 48 boxes of supplies from Manhattan Mini Storage this year!
We also couldn’t have gotten so many bags into so many hands without the help of our wonderful volunteers, including CBS Interactive, Bank of America, Banana Republic, the cast of HBO’s ‘The Deuce’ and so many others.
Volunteers from CBS Interactive sorted and packed hundreds of backpacks.
The kids were so excited to unzip the backpacks and see all the markers, erasers, binders and other cool stuff picked out especially for them. Carmen, a kindergartener from our Bound for Success program, squealed with delight when she was handed her pink backpack decorated with Frozen’s Elsa and Anna – “They’re my favorite!” Meanwhile, Melanie could barely contain her joy as she sorted through all her new colorful notebooks, folders and colored pencils, getting everything ordered just so.
Carmen is eager and ready to enter Kindergarten.
CHB Camper, Melanie shows off her colorful notebooks and folders.
For so many kids like Carmen and Melanie who have so little, the gift of a backpack and new school supplies can make all the difference in the world. We want to express our gratitude again to everyone who participated in this year’s Project: Back to School. Your support helped thousands of kids start the new school year with backpacks!
Although this year’s Project: Back to School was a huge success, there are still so many kids who need our help. There’s still time! Just $25 can help us get a backpack filled with school supplies into the hands of a school-aged child as soon as possible. Learn more.