Approximately 600 District 65 students were prepared to start the new year on Aug. 25, equipped with brand new school supplies.
In early August, District 65 officials learned that the Evanston non-profit, Kids and School Supplies, had been disbanded and would no longer be providing supplies for students.
Joyce Bartz, assistant superintendent for special services, and Maria Allison, chief strategy officer, worked alongside Kristin James, PTA council president, to explore various options to help subsidize the cost of purchasing supplies for those students and families in need.
“Nearly 40 percent of our student population qualifies for free and reduced lunch. For many families, the cost of school supplies is prohibitive, and so students enter school lacking what they need to feel fully prepared,” Allison said. After crunching the numbers, the team determined that it would cost approximately $10,000 to cover the cost of purchasing.
With the start of school drawing near, several community organizations stepped forward to provide the necessary resources to ensure students were prepared for the challenge of a new year. The Evanston Community Foundation provided District 65 with a Community Catalyst grant in the amount of $9,000 to purchase supplies for students in need.
Sara Schastok, president and CEO of ECF said, “Every year, the Foundation asks community members to invest in Evanston by giving to ECF. What we’ve been able to do here for 600 public school families who need help speaks volumes as to why this matters. ECF’s ability to respond so quickly to an urgent Evanston need would not have been possible without community support.”
The district also received a generous donation of $1,000 from Foundation 65 to assist in covering the expense. “Foundation 65 strives to support all kids in all schools in District 65. Our programs are centered around arts and literacy, but given the great need and urgency of the situation, we felt strongly that we do what we could to help. We hope that our donation will help to ensure every child is prepared for the new school year,” said Missy Hedges, Foundation 65 Board Member.
In addition to the grant awards provided by the local foundations, District 65 received donations from Maya Papaya & Tony Macarony, Office Depot, United Way, Verizon Wireless, and individual residents of the community. Local Starbucks stores throughout Evanston got behind the effort by hosting school supply drives and allowed patrons to drop-off donations at the various locations. Staff members from the 12 participating stores also donated their time to help district and parent volunteers sort and organize supplies so that they could be delivered to schools.
“Every store is part of a community, and we take our responsibility to be good neighbors seriously. We want to be invited in wherever we do business,” said Jake Keleher, Starbucks store manager.
“It was truly a community effort. We are very grateful for the generosity showed to our students and families by the residents of Evanston and Skokie,” Allison said.