4 Ways to Help Underserved School Kids

By: Lauren Ramakrishna

Public education faces funding gaps and systemic inequities that burden some students with unfair disadvantages in the race to achievement. A report by The Education Trust analyzing funding gaps in United States’ public schools found that “the highest poverty districts in our country receive about $1,000 less per student than the lowest poverty districts. The differences are almost twice as large — roughly $1,800 per student — between districts serving the most students of color and those serving the fewest.”

What this means: schools in poorer areas aren’t able to provide adequate education for kids, curbing their future opportunities. These schools face obstacles attracting and retaining high-quality teachers, starting early education programs, and addressing other education obstacles that prevent students from prospering, graduating, and competing in the workforce.

While it’s incumbent on local and state leaders to make sure public schools get support, it’s also up to citizens to advocate for public education. In addition to writing and contacting elected officials, there are even more actions you can take right now to help kids and educators who need the support. Check out a few ways to get started!

1. Support a backpack gifting group.

There are many kids who show up to school on day one without the supplies they need. Here’s how to help!

  • In New York, Operation Backpack provides new backpacks filled with supplies to kids in the city’s homeless and domestic violence shelters. There’s still time to form a fundraising team or make an online donation to help them meet its $200,000 goal for 2019!
  • The Kids In Need Foundation’s School Ready Supplies Program partners with companies and organizations across the U.S. to give school supplies to students. Talk to your employer, church, or community organization to find out if they can sponsor a backpack filling event that will benefit deserving kids in your area.
  • Many local organizations host backpack-filling events across the country, particularly before the school year. Do a quick online search to find a local event.

2. Put your dollars directly in teachers’ hands.

DonorsChoose.org makes it super easy to donate directly to teachers and their deserving students. You can search the website to find donation requests to fund supplies, field trips, and more. Choose by location, teacher, or topic. Look for the schools in your area that serve low-income students and fund one of the projects for that institution.

3. Join our End Child Hunger Challenge.

No Kid Hungry is on a mission to end child hunger through research, policy, advocacy, and providing meal programs to schools. If you join and complete ThatHelps’s End Child Hunger Challenge through our app, ThatHelps will donate $10—enough for 100 meals—to No Kid Hungry. It takes only a few minutes to help feed kids in food-insecure and keep them healthy during the school year!

4. Volunteer locally.

Do a little homework to learn more about needs of the underserved and underfunded schools in your area. Reach out to a school’s administration office to find out how you can help the school and its students. You can offer your time, with cleaning up, tutoring, support for ongoing projects, or fundraising.