Supplying kids with back to school basics

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Two months ago, I volunteered with a group of seven other Twitter employees at the Bay Area Women’s and Children’s Center (@BAWCC_org) during #FridayForGood. Inspired to continue helping this organization, our team came up with our own project: providing backpacks and supplies to students for their first day of school.

When we first arrived at BAWCC, one of the directors shared a video that showcased everything the center has accomplished in the past 30 years. With only two full-time employees, BAWCC has helped create and establish many things in their neighborhood: the Tenderloin Community Elementary School and on-site Family Center, the Tenderloin Recreation Center, five playgrounds in the surrounding neighborhood and places for people to get free groceries and clothes.

As a small group, we left our volunteering experience asking the same question: if these two women can accomplish all this, what can we as a small group do to help out, even just a little bit?

After speaking with people who work at The Tenderloin Community School, we learned that most kindergarteners arrive on their first day without a backpack or any type of school supplies.

To make sure every kid can start school with the basics, we partnered with Family Giving Tree (@FGTtweets) to sponsor a backpack build.

More than 350,000 children are enrolled in the Federal Free or Reduced Price Meal Program (Title I) in the Bay Area, the same criteria Family Giving Tree uses for identifying backpack recipients. These children face many barriers to success in the classroom, including engaging in career fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Supply-filled backpacks provide necessary tools for students, the first step to help them soar.

We reached out to the community within Twitter about our project, and within a few weeks, we almost doubled our fundraising goal. Employees also had the opportunity to participate by assembling supply kits, backpacks full of school supplies, and writing greeting cards wishing the kids good luck with their first day of school.

Supplying kids with back to school basics

Photo courtesy of Charles Rogers for Twitter, Inc.

Many people at Twitter got involved to help deliver over 170 backpacks to the Tenderloin Community School and De Marillac Academy of San Francisco (@DeMarillacSF). We also partnered with St. Anthony’s at their Back to School event where we handed out hundreds of backpacks with supplies with @Dolby and @ZenDesk.

To learn more about the project and St. Anthony’s Back to School Day, check out KGO’s report on @SoundCloud or @KTVU’s coverage below.