These back-to-school backpacks will assist underserved and low-income students, ranging from Kindergarten to 12th grade, who are not able to afford a quality backpack and find themselves challenged with carrying their textbooks and other educational materials and supplies throughout the school year.
To address this issue, United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC), and Santa Barbara Bank & Trust (SBB&T) partnered on a program that will provide 500 free back-to-school backpacks filled with school supplies to 12 local schools throughout south Santa Barbara County, compliments of SBB&T.
“Many students cannot afford a quality backpack that will last the full school year,” said Ms. Jo Anne Caines, Principal of La Cumbre Jr. High. “By mid-school year, you see students with their textbooks literally falling from the bottoms of their backpacks or with ripped handles. It is difficult for these students to focus on learning when they are concerned about how they’re going to bring their school books and supplies to class every day.”
The 500 backpacks will be delivered to 12 south Santa Barbara County schools including Adelante Charter School, Aliso School, Canalino School, Carpinteria High School, Carpinteria Middle School, El Camino School, Franklin Elementary School, Hope School, La Cumbre Junior High School, La Patera School, McKinley Elementary School and Santa Barbara High School.
“Most of us remember well the excitement of starting the new school year with a new backpack and school supplies,” said George S. Leis, President of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust. “Every student in our community deserves the chance to know how that feels and to not be worried about how they will carry their supplies back and forth to school. Some quality backpacks and basic school supplies will go a long way in making that first day a fun and positive experience and the school year just a little easier.”
Improving education is one of three major focus areas for United Way Santa Barbara County. During the next 10 years, UWSBC will work to achieve community driven 10-year goals to increase local high school graduation rates and the number of students reading at or above grade level in every grade by 50%.
“Getting backpacks to students who need them the most is just one piece of the larger picture,” said Paul Didier, President and CEO for United Way of Santa Barbara County. “Organizations, businesses and individuals have the power to work together and improve local education. To create change, especially long-term improvements, working together and living united is critical.”