Operation Backpack ensures children are prepared to learn and succeed in the classroom by providing a free backpack and school supplies to students most in need.
Students are paired with a uniformed police officer who helps the child fill his/her new backpack with the necessary school supplies as well as a new book to add to their home library. Corporate sponsors, individual donors, and community volunteers also assist in this program.
Reading is the foundation for all learning. Third grade is considered the moment in students’ lives when they make the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”, a make-or- break period for academic success.
The student who misses the opportunity to learn to read before the 4th grade almost never catches up. Nearly 90% of students who do not earn a high school diploma struggle to read in 3rd grade. 85% of teenagers in the juvenile justice system have difficulty reading.
Readers are Leaders is a 10-week reading program for third graders designed to support reading improvement or stabilization. Recognizing the importance of motivation, encouragement, and support, SWACSV provides a robust learning opportunity. Students not only join a reading program, but they also engage in a learning challenge with significant rewards. Students reading levels are measured at the beginning and end of the program to measure growth. During the program, the students receive free books, participate in special events where Top Readers and Most Improved Students are recognized, and reading is celebrated by students, parents, and police officers together. Students who demonstrate significant reading growth and have perfect attendance during the program are rewarded by participation in the Heroes & Helpers Holiday Shopping Spree.
The Readers are Leaders Summer Camp compliments the Readers are Leaders school year program by targeting K through 3rd grade students who are struggling readers. Keeping minds sharp during this time is vital to the prevention of a backward slide in literacy and critical thinking skills. This 4-week Guided Reading summer program is staffed by credentialed teachers and is offered in two groups of classes, K-1st grade and 2nd – 3rd grade students.
Aside from the structured curriculum, uniformed officers come into the classrooms and read to the children to continue to build bridges between law enforcement and youth. In addition, the children receive a new book plus an incentive prize for those who have weekly perfect attendance. Students are treated to an ice-cream treat and a “Reading” medal at the end of the 4-week camp.
Each December, Shop with a Cop Foundation of Silicon Valley hosts 3rd grade students from our partner schools for a Heroes & Helpers Holiday shopping spree at a local Target store. The majority of the children “earn their way” through the Readers are Leaders reading challenge. Other children participating in the shopping spree are those who have suffered a traumatic crisis in their young lives due to crime, significant medical challenges and/or natural disasters.
Students are treated to breakfast with a uniformed Police Officer at their side and are given a minimum of a $150 Target gift card to purchase gifts for their family members and themselves. They are escorted throughout the store by their Police Officer shopping buddy during the entire experience. Gifts are wrapped by community volunteers, donors. Local sports celebrities and mascots are also in attendance.
One year into the pandemic, hunger is more pervasive than ever among households throughout the Bay Area. Widespread, devastating layoffs have left many people finding it hard to pay for basic necessities.
This is especially true in the communities of the schools we partner with. SWACSV responded to this unprecedented need by hosting food distribution events at our partners' schools, where families were provided with food boxes, gift cards for grocery shopping, books for children, and other community resources supported by uniformed officers in a COVID safe drive through distribution.