While about one-fifth of public schools require uniforms, many low-income or homeless families can't afford them, or can only provide one set. Then, when children wear the wrong color of socks because they're the only clean ones they have, they're punished, even expelled.
Uniforms aren't the only problem. The average cost of back to school supplies in 2018 is between $634 - $1,355 per child. Research shows "low-income families are 10 times more likely than high-income parents to apply for a new credit card in order to save as little as 5% on school supplies."
We're especially excited about launching UNA Cares because we get to partner with some incredible charities who are changing the world. Here are just a few of our key partners, how they're making a difference, how we're supporting them, and ways you can get involved.
Cornerstones of Care
What they do: In their own words Cornerstones of Care "is dedicated to partnering for safe and healthy communities... Our key services areas include education, mental and behavioral health, foster care and adoption, youth support, family support and community training."
Cornerstones is working to overcome profound challenges, including helping the one out of every five teenagers who will experience a mental health disorder in their lifetime; and the 23,000 youths who turn 18 every year without ever having families to call their own. See ways you can support Cornerstones of Care here.
How UNA is helping: As part of our Back to School program, UNA donated several requested items to the Cornerstone team, including:
School Uniforms for Boys
- 18 polo shirts
- 18 pants
- 36 pairs of underwear
School Uniforms for Young Men
- 18 polo shirts
- 18 pants
- 25 pairs of underwear
- 36 pairs of socks
*Image courtesy of UNA
Above is a picture of me buying the clothes online (thank you Old Navy for having top-rated uniforms at great prices).
What they do: In their own words, DonorChoose.org makes it "easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America create classroom project requests, and you can give any amount to the project that inspires you."
Teachers and educators across America post specific needs for their classroom on the site, and anyone can donate towards the project. The funds go directly to the instructor, empowering them to give their kids everything they need. At the time of this publication, they've reached 29,481,993 students, find a classroom to help here.
*Image courtesy of DonorChoose.org
How UNA is helping: We loved being able to support a local classroom in need. We donated eight new desks to the James Traditional Elementary School project.
Lead to Read
What they do: In their own words Lead to Read "connects trusted, caring adult volunteers (called Readers) with kids in grades 1 through 4 from every walk of life. Once a week, for 30 minutes, Readers and kids explore the world by reading books provided by the children’s teachers, in the safety and security of an elementary school classroom."
Lead to read is a charity I'm especially passionate about as I've volunteered with them for two years. When I first learned that by the 3rd grade only 55 percent of Kansas City school children are proficient in reading, I was utterly shocked.
It's been incredibly meaningful for me to watch shy, reticent children who couldn't care less about reading, slowly fall in with Captain Underpants, Harry Potter, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. By the end of each year, reading has gone from being hard and overwhelming task to a gateway to adventure.
*Image courtesy of Lead to Read Facebook
How UNA is helping: we've made Lead to Read a featured partner and are encouraging our team to volunteer with them once a week over their lunch hour. (I get to meet my new student in two weeks; I can't wait.)
More Ways You Can Help
- If you or someone you know needs more affordable school supplies, try UNA's free Office Depot program and get up to 80% off
- Look for school supplies donation drives in your area or donate online
- Research where you can give uniforms (many places take new or used)
- Start your own drive
Here's to helping children love school and get the education they deserve. Here's to making their future, and ours, better.