Back to School: Help Unlock the Future for Foster Youth
The promise of another school year is upon us, and the youth at Sunnybrook are preparing for their next academic adventure. As they look ahead to a new class schedule with new teachers, the opportunity for a brighter, more educated future has the power to alter the trajectory of their young lives.
For the average Sunnybrook student, this school year also brings the uncertainty of another new school, which is likely their fourth or fifth school since kindergarten. Nationwide, 34% of foster teens have attended at least five different schools during their short academic careers.
Many of these teens have no idea where – or if – they will graduate from high school. By age 21, only 65% of foster alumni have completed high school (compared to a U.S. average of 86%), which directly affects employability, lifetime earnings, and staying stuck in the cycle of dependency.
Just walking through the door on the first day of school is a huge accomplishment - but they need your help to keep coming back. Being armed with adequate school supplies can make all the difference.
During the remote learning environment of the COVID-19 pandemic, 55% of students did not have school supplies at the start of the year. This had dramatic consequences, as teachers estimated a 65% decrease in-class participation as a direct result.
Think of school supplies as a bit of normalcy for students who have faced constant adversity in their personal and academic lives.
Beyond the traditional pencils, notebooks, calculators, sharpies and highlighters for the classroom, many need a new bookbag, wardrobe and shoes. In 2022, students also need Lysol wipes, hand sanitizer and tissues, as well as headphones to keep pace with the progression of technology in the classroom.
As the back-to-school supply list grows longer and longer, so too does the expense. Families now spend an average of $661 for each student’s back-to-school supplies, a 27% increase from pre-pandemic costs. Sunnybrook fills that family role for its foster students and every dollar and pencil donated goes directly into the bookbag of our learners.
“When we talk about the achievement gap for foster students, it starts with the opportunity gap. Foster students living in a temporary or group home facility often start the year off with limited if any school supplies. These kids have weathered a lot and don’t deserve the stigma of being empty-handed,” Sunnybrook Direct of Advancement Ron Veazey explained. “They don't expect a posh bookbag, designer headphones, and all the frill - but they deserve much more than the bare minimum.
“By filling their bookbags with tools for success, we’re doing God’s work of removing hurdles that clutter their path.”
Sunnybrook recently hosted members from the Upsilon Upsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Members very generously donated bookbags, supplies, scientific calculators and gift cards to each Sunnybrook student, helping them start the academic year off right.
“It was a privilege to partner with Sunnybrook Children's Home to assist the students as they prepare for the new school year,” member Martishia Powers said. “Thank you so much for allowing us to play a small role in their educational journey. We are grateful for what Sunnybrook does to keep our youth safe and on the right path to success.”
As any student or parent knows, the need for academic supplies pops up constantly throughout the year, so we still need your help! The next time you’re shopping locally or online, please consider adding these supplies to your basket and donating them to a deserving Sunnybrook student:
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Monetary donations are also welcome and can be made through this link, or by contacting Ron Veazey at 601-540-4253.
Your support is vital to restoring home and hope in our children!