Millions Cannot Afford ‘Back-To-School’

Published on August 29, 2009, 10:03 pm
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International humanitarian aid organization World Vision today warned that millions of low-income children will return to school this year without basic school supplies because high unemployment rates and economic hard times leave many families strapped for cash. The average family spends over $500 on school supplies.

Compared to last year’s distribution of 30,000 backpacks, this year World Vision will distribute only 18,000 backpacks and school supplies to children and teachers from low-income schools, due to a  decrease in donations. The aid agency’s operations in Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Minneapolis, Chicago, West Virginia, Georgia, Washington, DC, and Dallas report receiving nearly 140,000 requests for backpacks.  

“Classroom teachers, many of whom are facing school budget cuts around the country, may shoulder a heavier burden for purchasing school supplies this year,” said Romanita Hairston, Vice-President, U.S. Programs. Typically, teachers pay at least $500 of their own money each school year to provide supplies for their students.*  

World Vision’s Teacher Resource Centers (TRCs), which serve more than 24,000 teachers nationally, allow teachers from qualifying schools to “shop” free for much-needed basic school supplies that they and their students can use. These basic supplies include pens, pencils, notebooks, erasers, notebook paper, rulers, and more.

Through the World Vision TRC, each teacher can obtain more than $1,100 in retail value of school supplies over the course of the school year. Nationally, more than $27 million (retail value) in school supplies gets into the hands of teachers and students in need through World Vision.

In addition, World Vision has launched “SchoolTools,” a program available nationwide through which companies and other organizations can host backpack stuffing events to benefit any community in need of their choice, anywhere in the United States. SchoolTools is a unique, cost-effective way to encourage teamwork and build employee morale while filling a critical need.

World Vision has gift-in-kind distribution centers in nine cities across the country. Through these centers last year, World Vision worked with over 3,800 partners nationwide, serving more than 2.3 million children and families in the United States.  Manufacturers, distributors and retailers donated about $366 million in surplus merchandise to World Vision locations across the country. World Vision distributes only new, high quality goods such as school supplies, clothing, personal hygiene items, and building supplies to families in need.

About World Vision

World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty. World Vision serves the world’s poor – regardless of a person’s religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, visit


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