back to school

Need help with school supplies? These groups equip Pittsburgh kids for learning

When kids show up at school prepared with supplies and ready to work, it can make a world of difference in their academic success.

There is a measurable impact for students equipped with basics like pencils, backpacks and paper. According to The Education Partnership, those kids experience an astounding 71 percent increase in completing projects, a 73 percent increase in class participation, a 68 percent increase in student morale and 45 percent increase in attendance.

Pittsburgh organizations recognize the needs of the 60,000 kids in our region whose families can benefit from a bit of back-to-school assistance.

For the fourth year, the National Council of Jewish Women – Pittsburgh section recently welcomed more than 600 kids from grades K-5 at the Kingsley Center to shop with volunteers for new and brand-name clothing, backpacks and school supplies.

“Back-to-school shopping is a regular, fun rite of passage at the end of each summer, but for some families in our community, this is a very stressful time of year,” says Cristina Ruggiero, executive director of the Pittsburgh section of the National Council of Jewish Women.

“We want to eliminate some of the financial and emotional burdens families experience at this time of year by giving kids a back-to-school shopping day that is on par with their peers while providing additional resources for parents and families who may be struggling.”

Many other Pittsburgh groups work to support the back-to-school effort. Here are some of their endeavors:

 Pittsburgh Public Schools

Pittsburgh Public Schools hosts thousands of families to help kids rev up their back-to-school excitement. The annual event, #WeArePPS, is designed to equip kids with the resources to start the new school year. School supplies and a Parents Resource Fair will help promote healthy prep to upcoming academics. All current Pittsburgh Public School students are invited to Pittsburgh Faison, 7430 Tioga St., Homewood, from 1-5 p.m. Aug. 20. With the #WeArePPS initiative, the district hopes to continue to develop effective family and community partnerships.

The Education Partnership

The Education Partnership works all year long to keep kids equipped and prepped for learning in 110 regional schools. The Partnership is sponsoring a number of fundraising efforts, including:

Throughout August, a percentage of proceeds from donut sales at Duck Donuts Pittsburgh will go to The Education Partnership.

WPXI, First Student Bus Company and Giant Eagle are teaming up to encourage Pittsburghers to donate new school supplies to The Education Partnership. Supplies can be dropped off at 11 Giant Eagle stores from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 18.

Through Sept. 5, checkout cashiers at 47 local Giant Eagle stores will encourage monetary donations to local students through The Education Partnership.

The 6th annual Golf Outing at Laurel Valley Golf Club on Sept. 27 and 28 will benefit the Education Partnership.

South Hills Interfaith Movement

Poverty extends beyond urban boundaries to the suburbs. Helping South Hills families from six communities, the South Hills Interfaith Movement offers backpacks and school supplies to kids from grades K-12. Families should register in advance for pick up at one of the following locations: 1-4 p.m. Aug. 13 at Pleasant Hills Community Presbyterian Church; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 16 at Bethel Park Community Center; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 17 at Baldwin Borough Library.

Buzzword Pittsburgh

The Homewood Back-to-School Bash hosted by Buzzword Pittsburgh is set for 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 18 at Crescent Early Learning Center with free activities, games, prizes and food.

Homeless Children’s Education Fund

The Homeless Children’s Education Fund has partnered with UPMC Health Plan to distribute 2,200 backpacks filled with school supplies — including notebooks, crayons, folders, calculators and flash drives. The Allegheny County students, from 24 housing and service providers,  are homeless or experiencing other housing issues. With vulnerable kids numbering as many as an estimated 3,500, the need continues to grow. Volunteers will drop off the backpacks for distribution on Aug. 17.

Lawrenceville Back-to-School Bash

PEP Rally partners with Encounter Church for this year’s Back-to-School Bash from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 23 in Arsenal Park. The program is designed to create community excitement for the start of the school year. Kids will receive backpacks and other school supplies for their kids. Parents can connect with Lawrenceville feeder schools and afterschool program providers, as well as community agencies who will share details about family resources. The fun includes food, music and kids’ activities, including a bounce house and face painting.

Rep. Gainey Annual Book Bag Drive

State Rep. Edward C. Gainey, 24th Legislative District, will sponsor his annual Book Bag Drive from noon-4 p.m. Aug. 18 at Destiny International Ministries in Brushton. Kids attending will receive a free book bag containing school supplies. There will be food and music and helpful information on safety and state programs for kids.