Students in four Southeast schools are now receiving backpacks full of school supplies this year through Schoolhouse Supplies' 'Tools for Schools' program, a program that partners local companies with elementary schools. D.A. Grout, Arleta, and Marysville Elementary schools were added to the program this year, with Creston adding to enrollment as they expand to serve grades K-8.
In total, 18 corporate and community partners including Entrepreneur's Foundation of the Northwest, Umpqua Bank, Harland Financial, and Vernier Software and Technology are providing backpacks to almost 8,000 students in 17 elementary schools across the Portland Public Schools district.
Nonprofit Schoolhouse Supplies in Northeast Portland explains that, for the 20,000 Portland Public School students eligible for free or reduced lunch, the more than $50-per-child cost of supplies is often out of reach. Tools for Schools helps level the educational playing field for these students by ensuring all students in sponsored schools have the tools they need to learn.
'For many of my families it becomes a choice of having school supplies or putting food on the table,' agrees Susan McElroy, principal at Grout Elementary, on S.E. Holgate Boulevard, which is sponsored for the first time this year by the Entrepreneur's Foundation of the Northwest. 'To have my kids receive 'Tools for Schools' is overwhelming. It means there will not be kids who have nice backpacks, binders and all the extras alongside kids who have nothing.'
The sponsor's contribution to the school often extends beyond just backpacks, as is the case with the Entrepreneur's Foundation of the Northwest and Grout Elementary. With support from the Foundation, 40 students at Grout will also be participating in Learning Enrichment and Accelerated Pace (LEAP) classes through 'Saturday Academy'.
Volunteers from each of the sponsoring companies were packing backpacks full of supplies for their sponsored schools in August at the Schoolhouse Supplies warehouse, 2735 N.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses. The Grout backpacks were packed on Friday, August 18th, by the Entrepreneur's Foundation of the Northwest.