Our 2023 United Way Tools for School program, in conjunction with corporate and community partners, delivered 43,000 school supplies to local children. Now in its 34th year, the program provides students with the basic tools needed to succeed in the classroom. This year, 115 volunteers and 41 corporate and community partners collected and filled 2,020 backpacks with essential donations. The total donated supplies and backpacks were worth almost $105,000.
School supplies have gotten more expensive – rising to an average of $80 per child annually, according to inflation data. Families we call ALICE® – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed – are living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to afford the basics. Providing school supplies for their children, along with paying for necessities such as rent, food, child care, and medicine, is an added financial hardship.
“No child should grow up without the tools needed for the opportunity for academic success,” said United Way of Northern New Jersey CEO Kiran Handa Gaudioso. “We thank all those who joined with us to ensure thousands of local elementary, middle, and high school students received bookbags stocked with the essentials for learning. We are grateful for the generous outpouring from the community.”
Our latest ALICE research shows that nearly 790,000 New Jersey children — 41% — live in financially insecure households. These families often face difficult trade-offs that can affect a child’s health, education, and future well-being.
United in Purpose, we helped ease the financial burden for households across the region struggling to make ends meet. United Way Tools For School is just one of the many ways we support ALICE families. From joining our free tax preparation team to bringing joy during the holiday season, there’s an opportunity for volunteers to make a difference.