Students in three new Portland Public schools will receive backpacks full of school supplies this year through Schoolhouse Supplies' Tools for Schools program, an effort that partners local companies with elementary schools.
D.A. Grout, Arleta and Marysville elementary schools will be added to the program this year, while six other sponsored schools will add to enrollment as they expand to serve kindergartners through eighth-graders.
In total, 18 Portland businesses — including Umpqua Bank, Comcast and PGE Park — will provide backpacks to almost 8,000 students in 17 elementary schools across the district.
For the 20,000 Portland Public School students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, the more than $50 of supplies needed per student is often out of reach. Tools for Schools helps level the educational playing field for these students by ensuring all students in sponsored schools have the tools they need to learn.
"For many of my families it becomes a choice of having school supplies or putting food on the table," said Susan McElroy, principal at D.A. Grout. "To have my kids receive Tools for Schools is overwhelming. It means there will not be kids who have nice backpacks, binders and all the extras alongside kids who have nothing."
Tools for Schools helps kids in need by enlisting companies to "adopt" high poverty elementary schools, providing a backpack filled with supplies to every student on the first day of school. For the past three years, the program has targeted schools with more than 65 percent student eligibility for the federally funded free or reduced lunch program.
Tools for Schools is much more than just a financial contribution; the program reinforces the commitment between local businesses and public education. Each company has the opportunity to organize groups of employee volunteers to pack the backpacks at the Schoolhouse Supplies warehouse and distribute the filled backpacks to the students on the first day of school. Companies are encouraged to maintain involvement with their sponsored school throughout the school year.
For more information, visit www.schoolhousesupplies. org.