A Picture of the Opportunity Gap
Right now, a 10-year-old girl sits in a sparsely furnished classroom in a poor American neighborhood where she lives with her grandparents and 3 siblings. She has the inner capability to discover the cure for Alzheimer’s disease or reverse the effects of climate change, if only she could tap into and cultivate it. Because her family life is so unstable, she lacks basic learning tools like notebook paper, pencils, and a backpack.
Her teacher is responsible for her and 38 other students with similar challenges in a school that has cut all extra-curricular and non-academic activities to save money. None of them has access to the same opportunities as peers in more affluent communities. What does her future look like? Will her innate strengths be sufficient to overcome this Opportunity Gap so she can achieve her potential?
Research shows that most children cannot bridge this gap without outside intervention. At Kids In Need Foundation (KINF), we believe every child, no matter where they live, deserves equal opportunity and access to a quality education. To make this vision a reality, we provide school supplies and learning resources to level the playing field in the most underserved schools – with a priority on those with an enrollment of 70% or more in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). We do all of this at no cost to the schools, their educators, and their students.
Bridging the Opportunity Gap
Many factors contribute to the Opportunity Gap (and the resulting Learning and Achievement Gaps). KINF works to eliminate one fundamental barrier that directly contributes to it – the lack of resources that optimize student learning.
Teachers see first-hand how much their students struggle, especially those living in poverty. This teacher in Indianapolis told us what she witnessed when her students gained access to resources: “Many of our students are living at the poverty line so access to the most basic school supplies is not there. They ‘shop’ for supplies from Kids In Need Foundation in my class, and their whole demeanor changes. Feeling prepared for class helps their self-esteem immensely. This translates into their engagement in class and learning.”
“When I gave my student a book bag with supplies in it from Kids In Need, she began to cry and was so overwhelmed. I cannot tell you the positive impact that Kids In Need made on her confidence and her life as a fourth grader.”A teacher in Atlanta’s Clayton County Public Schools
By providing essential school supplies, distance learning resources, and other classroom items in high demand, we partner with teachers in underfunded schools to ensure their students have what they need to learn. In 2020, through programs like Supply A Teacher, Supply A Student, and Second Responder and with our National Network of Resource Centers (comprised of more than 40 mission-driven organizations nationwide), KINF served an estimated 5 million students, 205,000 teachers, and provided over $70 million in product at no cost to schools or teachers.
Managing Inventory, Empowering Education
Corporations and product suppliers make these programs possible by providing the resources needed to ensure teachers and students can concentrate on what’s really important: their education. These generous donations fill backpacks for students, Supply A Teacher boxes, and the shelves of our National Network of Resource Centers.
It all comes together through our Business Solutions program, designed to receive products, sort them, then distribute them across our network and into the hands of teachers and students in need. It’s a win/win: our partners get a seamless solution for tax-deductible inventory donation while students receive empowering resources so they can reach their full potential and teachers receive relief from the financial burden of purchasing supplies themselves.
Because teachers and students need supplies throughout the entire year, the Business Solutions program can assist businesses in reducing stock at any time, lessening the waste caused by packaging misprints or logo changes, cycling out seasonal inventory, and redirecting excess and obsolete inventory from landfills to new life in American schools.
We’re proud of the partnerships we’ve built with manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers across the US. You will recognize many of them: 3M, Crayola, Dixon Ticonderoga, Five Below and Newell Brands.
“We’re so proud to partner with Kids In Need Foundation and to be the Presenting Sponsor of their National Network of Resource Centers,” says Steve Boyea, EVP Sales & Marketing, Dixon Ticonderoga Company. “We share their values and the belief that every child deserves equal opportunity and access to a quality education. It’s so gratifying to play a role in their success and the partnership has become a rallying cry for all our employees.”
Some partners choose to work with us on cause marketing campaigns – socially-responsible ways for companies to increase brand visibility, sales, and establish the reputation of being a corporate and community leader. These campaigns support charitable causes and also highlight for customers those companies that prioritize philanthropy. In an international study, 91% of consumers reported they were likely to switch to a brand that supports a good cause given comparable quality and price point.
Five Below has partnered with KINF on a cause marketing campaign since 2018. In 2020, customer support of Five Below’s involvement with Kids In Need Foundation was overwhelming despite the unprecedented impact that the pandemic had on the school year, so to see our incredible customers rally again in 2021, and donate more than 440,000 backpacks – 100,000 more than in 2020 – was truly astounding.
“Without fail, whenever our incredible Wow Crew asked customers if they wanted to contribute to the cause by purchasing a backpack the answer was almost always a resounding ‘yes!’,” says Michael Romanko, CMO, Five Below. “With our incredible customers, know that these donations are much more than just a $5 backpack, they represent unlimited possibilities and potential for the under-resourced kids who receive them. This is why we are so honored and thrilled to have been able to come on board as KINF’s National Backpack Sponsor, furthering our commitment to raising up our communities and making a positive impact for the people who call them home.”
For more information or to talk with someone about joining the mission of providing the support and tools needed for teachers to teach and learners to learn, visit KINF.org. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter: @KidsInNeed.