The annual Crayons to Calculators campaign, which provides school supplies for local students, is seeking public support to meet an overall program goal of $250,000 for the upcoming academic year.
“We set up this community challenge to get individuals in the community to help us get across the finish line,” Impact on Education Foundation Executive Director Allison Billings said.
The school supply initiative, which is a collaborative effort between Impact on Education and the St. Vrain Valley Schools Education Foundation, seeks to provide support to the roughly 8,000 area students living at or below poverty level.
“Our program is really unique because we partner with the school district and the schools,” she said. “We purchase about 8,000 backpacks and we'll supply kits that get distributed out to over 100 schools.”
Supply kits include items such as pens, pencils, notebooks and headphones, Billings said.
Impact on Education is promoting a community challenge to raise 10% or $25,000 of the overall $250,000 program cost, which is primarily sourced through sponsors.
“Western Disposal Services is our title sponsor and they get us about 90% of the way there,” she said.
Impact on Education Communications Director Catherine Wessling said the public challenge, which was launched earlier this month, has netted $8,520 to this point.
While only one third has been collected so far, Billings is hopeful the online challenge will continue spreading via social media.
“The cool part about this community challenge is it makes it really easy for folks to share,” she said. “You can create a profile and share it on social media with friends and family.”
Prior to COVID the annual campaign was more of a hands on affair.
“Up until 2019 we actually would collect school supplies … and we assembled backpacks together,” she said.
Following a necessary pivot to solely fundraising during the pandemic, organizers discovered a stronger economic approach.
“We've connected with a wholesaler and we're able to stretch dollars further than if folks just walked into a retail store and purchased these supplies on their own,” she said.
By teaming up directly with area schools, program recipients are assured discretion when obtaining supplies.
“Any kid in the Boulder Valley School District or St. Vrain Valley School District that needs help with school supplies can reach out to their school and they've got exactly what they need,” she said. “It’s really easy and really respectful for the families.”
Program officials estimate families spend roughly $75 per student for school supplies.
“More parents are feeling the pinch right now and all signs point to this being a hard year for parents to afford the things that come with going back to school,” she said. “Our hope is to just lighten the load a little bit for families.”
A Precious Child also is hosting a similar drive. Its annual Fill A Backpack program, which started in late June, is accepting community donations through Aug. 5.
Precious Child is aiming to provide supply-filled backpacks for 20,000 children this year.
“No child should have to go to class feeling embarrassed to have to ask their teacher to borrow a pencil or piece of paper,” according to the program webpage.