2020 California Non-Profit of the Year

Building a path out of poverty with backpacks

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Building a path out of poverty with backpacks

Did you know:  One out of every four Bay Area children now lives below the poverty line?  By the 3rd grade, these students are, on average, already two years behind their peers in reading and math. (And, early reading has been identified as key to future success in STEAM-related subjects.)

At retail, a backpack with school and STEAM-based supplies can range from $65 (Elementary) to $100 (High School). For those living under the federal poverty line, often there are no funds left over for books and school supplies – even the basics of pencils and paper.  When these supplies are not available in the home, homework often goes undone. We cannot afford to have students fall further behind.

The price children pay for their families’ financial situation undermines their education in other ways, too. It destabilizes their self-esteem and confidence and can create emotional trauma and personal issues that negatively affect performance in school and beyond.

The need is great

Although you wouldn’t know it, given the economic strength of Silicon Valley and the visible signs of incredible wealth all around, hundreds of thousands of students live on the edge of survival. What we call the “Shadow of Success” is very real in the Bay Area and low-income families struggle to make ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck. There just isn’t enough for school supplies and a backpack to carry them in. How “real” is the situation? Very. Many families are struggling to make ends meet. Children are living below the poverty level.

Breaking down barriers with backpacks

The Shop with a Cop “Operation Backpack” drive was launched in 2012 with the goal of closing the educational gap for in-need K-6 students. New backpacks full of essential, grade-appropriate school supplies are collected and delivered to  (4) local elementary schools  who  are eligible to receive a backpack loaded with essential supplies so they can succeed in the classroom.  In 2020 alone, we distributed 1000 backpacks to under-served youth from San Jose. The need is greater now than ever before.

With your generosity, we will continue to grow both the number of students served as well as the resources offered.

These backpacks make a difference!

“Receiving backpacks made a big impact on the lives of my children and were a huge motivation for them to start school.” – Mrs. Cruz, Parent from Santee Elem. School

Thank you for helping us bring joy and learning to those in need.

Your donations matter.

How you can help

Donate Now—Your generous donations allow us to bulk-purchase gifts and expand our reach—
Volunteer—Help us sort and prepare backpacks for our recipient schools
Sponsor—Be recognized for playing a key role in the success of our program


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