2019 Backpack Drive – Tackling the Social Inequities Faced by Native American Students
As we approach a new school year, Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) knows that a successful school year begins with feeling prepared. This year, we hope to equip more than 20,000 students with the essentials they need to feel confident in the classroom, as part of our annual Backpack Drive.
The Backpack Drive is supported by PWNA’s American Indian Education Fund (AIEF) program. In 2018, AIEF provided thousands of students with backpacks, notebooks, pencils and other items, thanks to the support of our donors. Unfortunately, approximately 35 percent of Native American children live in poverty so these basic supplies that we take for granted are often viewed as luxuries in reservation communities with scarce jobs, limited shopping and family budgets that are stretched all year.
In addition to low incomes and limited access to basic supplies, many Native American students face systemic barriers to attaining a good education in underfunded and underperforming schools with high turnover and disrepair, such as the schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education under the U.S. Department of the Interior. Yet another social inequity Native American students grapple with every day, this contributes to Native American students having the lowest graduation rates and highest dropout rates of any ethnicity in the U.S. PWNA is committed to providing essential materials to Native students to ensure they are ready to tackle learning in the classroom, regardless of the other barriers they may be facing.
School supplies are critical to the success of every student, and many children return to school without supplies. In addition, delivering these items is oftentimes challenging, especially for reservations located in remote, geographically isolated areas across rough terrain. The average fuel cost for delivering supplies to a single school on the reservations PWNA serves is approximately $135.
Our annual Backpack Drive is under way and our hope is that, through the support of caring people like you, we can receive enough donations to get these school supplies to our reservation school partners in time for back to school. With your help, we can relieve some of the financial stress facing families and ensure Native American students are prepared for the new school year.