Believe it or not, it’s almost that time of year again – back to school. Soon stores all across America will be stocking their shelves with school supplies, and families will crowd the aisles checking off items from classroom lists. But for many children in the Appalachia region, this is a luxury their families cannot afford. That’s why Americans Helping Americans is donating fully-stocked backpacks to schools across the area. See how you can help donate school supplies, and why it’s such an important cause.
Education and Poverty in Appalachia
While the overall poverty rate recently decreased by just over two percentage points, (between 2017 and 2021), in 77 Appalachian counties, it remained the same or actually increased. The poverty rate stands at 14.5%, and the medium household income lies below the national average.
Many of the areas we provide services to in Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, and Georgia saw no increase in household income or were negatively impacted by a decrease in income. For age groups, those most affected by poverty are those between 18-24 (22.6%) and those under 18 (19.8%).
With nationwide inflation, the effects of poverty are even greater – putting basic necessities and important things like school supplies out of reach. More Appalachian families receive SNAP food program assistance compared to the rest of America.
Another report by the Population Reference Bureau shows that Appalachia’s rural counties face “unique challenges” compared to hundreds of “similarly designated” counties across the United States. “Specifically, rural Appalachia continues to lag behind the rest of rural America in educational attainment, broadband access, household income, and population growth.”
While some strides have been made in associates and bachelors degree attainment, many areas – particularly in central Appalachia – still lie below the national average by a significant margin.
Poverty and education have long been linked together. The poverty rate rises as the level of education drops. And for families where the parent or parents have little education, the pattern seems to continue for their children: “Lower parental educational attainment, living in a single-parent household, and living in poverty are associated with poor educational outcomes.”
The American Psychological Association also notes the correlation between poverty and education. Low socioeconomic status is associated with “poor cognitive development, language, memory, socioemotional processing, and consequently poor income and health in adulthood.” Children from poor communities seem to develop academic skills at a slower rate than other students, and reasons for this can, in part, be attributed to under-resourced schools as well as lower literacy levels and access to learning materials.
This is why our back-to-school drive for school supplies is so important.
AHA’s Mission to Donate School Supplies
Since 1990 Americans Helping Americans has provided multiple services in the Appalachia region with the purpose of alleviating suffering and poverty and helping communities receive access to adequate housing, healthcare, food, clothing, and education. Our Back to School program is just one of these services – and a critical one.
Our program donates backpacks filled with paper, pencils, crayons, sharpeners, scissors, notebooks, erasers, rulers, and glue to partners in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, and Georgia. The school supply donations give disadvantaged children the basic tools necessary to succeed in the classroom.
This school year, our goal is to provide 3,750 backpacks and school kits.
By being prepared to learn, students can fully participate in classroom activities and disruptions that hinder learning are reduced. In addition, when children arrive on the first day of school with a backpack and all the necessary supplies, this not only enables active learning but supports their self-esteem and confidence.
Other Ways AHA Supports Better Education in Appalachian Schools
Our Back to School program is not the only way we’re working to improve learning outcomes and raise the standard of living for Appalachian communities. We’re also supporting efforts to decrease the technology gap for the region’s households. The lack of digital equity can easily and negatively impact students’ success in school.
Without access to a computer or the internet, homework and extended learning becomes very difficult. We are partnering with Laptops 4 Learning to empower children to learn online at home as well as in the classroom.
Our Teachers Grant program also provides support for educators, enabling them to access better learning tools, curriculum, and opportunities like field trips that foster better educational outcomes.
Help Us Donate School Supplies
Every school year is another opportunity to help disadvantaged American children start off on the right foot – ready to learn. Every year gives us a chance to help break the cycle of poverty, improve educational outcomes, and support new cycles of higher education, better career opportunities, and better lives for these historically impoverished communities.
Please help us donate school supplies to our partners in the Appalachian region. It’s easy, and it doesn’t take much!
Click the button below and simply choose how you would like to donate. We thank you, in advance, for any help you are willing to give.