CSL's Back to School Fairs are rapidly approaching: each year, we hold community events at five of our locations to provide backpacks, school supplies, tennis shoes, and community resources to eligible families. And each year, our friends, neighbors, and supporters blow us away with the outpouring of support. Businesses, organizations, and churches all around Eastern Jackson County have been collecting school supplies for CSL families, and they've been coming in droves! Star Wars backpacks, crayon and marker sets, notebooks, binders, and everything in-between. We get boxes of colorful sneakers of all sizes, and can just imagine the smiles we'll see when a kiddo gets a brand new pair of sneaks for the new school year. If you’re looking to contribute to our Back to School Fairs, consider this:
You can still purchase & drop off needed items to your local CSL or CSL barrel site until July 29
You can make a gift of $25, which purchases a fully-stocked backpack for one K-12 student
You can make a monthly gift of $65, which provides backpacks for 10 families within one year
While the impact of this program is huge, and alleviates the financial burden for many families around Eastern Jackson County, it's only a piece in the larger puzzle of how poverty affects children and their educations. If you're already a supporter of the Back to School Fairs, but are looking for other ways to support the education of children living in poverty, here are some ways you can do that:
Support Early Intervention Programs: According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, childhood development is a great predictor for academic and economic prosperity in adulthood: "Two main factors make the first five years of life especially critical to development: the rapid development of young children’s brains leaves them particularly vulnerable to environmental conditions, and their family life dominates their day-to-day existence." Supporting early intervention programs, like Parents As Teachers, helps to make the most of this crucial development period and has long-lasting impacts on a child's health and success later in life.
Support Reduced and Summer Lunch Programs: Many families living in poverty rely on school breakfast and lunch programs to provide their children with nutritious food to fuel their focus and energy on their educations - a group of these students are receiving their only meals for the day at school. By relieving the burden of lunch costs for families, they can funnel those funds toward other expenses, like transportation, utilities and rent: they no longer have to make the choice, "Do we eat, or pay the rent?" as much as they used to. Additionally, we know that a well-fed kiddo is a more healthy and focused one, with direct effects on their physical health, attention span, and ability to retain knowledge.
Support Equitable Education Funds: Schools with high percentages of low-income students have less state and local funds to spend on teachers' salaries, personnel, and equipment. As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in 2011, "Educators across the country understand that low-income students need extra support and resources to succeed, but in far too many places policies for assigning teachers and allocating resources are perpetuating the problem rather than solving it (...)The good news ... is that it is feasible for districts to address this problem and it will have a significant impact on educational opportunities for our nation's poorest children."