This back-to-school season we’re excited to partner with the Kids In Need Foundation and kids’ artwork archivists Plum Print to help get this school year off to a strong start.
Through September 14, share your favorite first-day-of-school photos using #GHBackpackGiveBack and we’ll donate $10 to the Kids In Need Foundation. Simply by sharing, you’ll be entered for a chance to win one of five Plum Print coffee-table books featuring your own child’s artwork. (You can upload your photo on Instagram or here.)
We recently chatted with Kids In Need to find out more about the work they do and the kids they serve. Here’s what they had to say:
For those who may not be familiar with the Kids In Need Foundation, what is your mission?
The Kids In Need Foundation’s mission is to ensure that every child is prepared to learn and succeed in the classroom by providing free school supplies nationally to students most in need. The Kids In Need Foundation is a national 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in 1995, and we have distributed $1 Billion in free school supplies.
What areas do you serve?
We are a nationwide Foundation. We maintain four primary programs to distribute school supplies to teachers and students. These include a national network of 40 resource centers where teachers shop for free supplies, a Second Responder® program that provides school supplies to students impacted by natural disasters, a School Ready Supplies program that provides filled backpacks and bulk supplies to students, and a Teacher Supply Box program that provides successful applicants with boxes of essential supplies.
How and when did Kids In Need Foundation get its start?
The Kids In Need Foundation was established in 1995 by the school supplies and office products industry. In 1997, we opened our first Resource Center in Chicago. At the time, no other national non-profit organization had the same mission. In 2004, the School Ready Supplies program was established to accommodate community school supply giveaway programs. In 2013, a program to provide school supplies to children affected by natural disasters, Second Responder®, was added, although KINF had already helped devastated communities, such as providing $7 million in supplies to Gulf Coast schools after Hurricane Katrina. Now in 2018, there are 40 affiliate Resource Centers. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, we also have additional staff based in Dayton, Ohio.
What correlations have you found between a lack of school supplies and a child’s overall school experience?
Something seemingly so simple as a pencil and paper has a tremendous impact in a child’s success in the classroom and in life.
Each year, Kids In Need Foundation surveys teachers who are the recipients of school supplies from our Resource Centers. Overwhelmingly, they tell of creating more equal learning environments for their students. It’s the student who isn’t ostracized because of their poverty. It’s the school that can still create artwork and science fairs that are as complete and enriching as any in the neighboring district.
Where do you see some of the greatest need?
The need is nationwide. While we have provided $1 Billion in free school supplies, we still have a very long way to go until every child has the supplies they need to thrive in the classroom.
On average, teachers spend $578 per year from their own pockets on school supplies for their classrooms. That’s why we offer 40 Resource Centers across the country where teachers can go to obtain free school supplies. We also offer Teacher Supply Boxes provide successful applicants with two boxes containing roughly $500 in the most essential school supplies — from notebooks and markers to pens and glue.
The Foundation helps children from low-income families as well as those affected by natural disasters… Do your services differ for each?
We serve kids at schools where at least 70% of students are enrolled in the federal free or reduced lunch program. We do this through our National Network of Resource Centers and our School Ready Supplies program.
We also help students affected by natural disasters return to normal routines with our Second Responder® program, which is dedicated to providing school supplies to students affected by natural disasters. We work with local authorities, schools, and select sponsors to provide school supplies to help students return to normal routines.
Can you share any examples of how donations from Kids in Need have impacted a child or a community in ways that people might not expect?
Educators are increasingly expected to provide supplementary and even foundational supplies for their classrooms, often just so they can provide basic curriculum and instruction. They regularly do so, making it the rare profession where an employee takes money from their own pocket to pay to do their job. 94% of teachers surveyed in our annual impact report said classroom preparedness improved when students have the supplies they need. And 75% of teachers surveyed said their students had increased interest in learning when they have the school supplies they need.
If someone knows a family who could benefit from Kids in Need, whom should they contact?
They should contact their school directly. Qualifying school districts register with us so their teachers can sign up for shopping times in our Resource Centers.
What are teachers themselves most in need of?
Kids In Need Foundation uses the direct feedback and requests from teachers to inform the supplies that we provide. They guide the core product that are provided in every backpack we produce as part of our School Ready Supply program and the Teacher Supply Boxes we distribute. We include these items and many others in the free stores of our National Network of Resource Centers.
Our survey of 12,000 teachers who received supplies from Kids In Need Foundation prioritized the top 10 requested school supplies in this order:
- Dry erase markers
- Copy paper
- Office supplies
- Cleaning supplies
Are there any volunteer opportunities with Kids in Need Foundation?
We recommend that volunteers contact their closest Kids In Need Foundation resource centers for potential opportunities. Here is a list of our Resource Centers.
Ready to share your first-day photo? Learn more