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Resources for success: Supplying students in need through the Backpack Challenge

From August 1 through September 16, the marketing research industry is uniting to deliver essential school supplies to students – and we're reading some good books while we’re at it.


In under-resourced schools, many children struggle to obtain the school supplies they need to succeed – and with back-to-school in full swing, this disparity is critical to address. From August 1 – September 16, 2022, the Marketing Research Education Foundation (MREF) is partnering with the Kids In Need Foundation (KINF) and other charities to help under-resourced students in the U.S. and Canada by providing them with backpacks full of necessary school supplies.


KINF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help teachers and children in under-resourced schools obtain the school supplies needed for the year. KINF has helped 7.8 million students and 316,000 teachers and has distributed over $162 million worth of free school resources and supplies nationwide.


In their 2021 impact report, the National Network of Resource Centers and KINF found that nearly two out of three students arrive at school without the requested school supplies. Having the required school supplies on the first day of class positively impacts how the rest of the school year will go. Teacher reports indicated that students who have the necessary school supplies feel more prepared, participate more in class and have higher self-esteem. When children have the supplies they need to succeed in class, they perform better.


The necessity for adequate school supplies extends to the home as well – children struggle to complete their projects and daily homework assignments without the supplies they need. Providing children with sufficient materials for both in-class work and homework makes a crucial impact.


From August 1 – September 16, the MREF is holding the Backpack Challenge Readathon to raise $30,000 to supply 2,000+ backpacks full of essential school supplies to kids who need them. Through this effort, we hope to raise awareness as well as funds for this cause – and give families a fun way to kick off the school year by reading books.


Why a readathon?

Summer can be challenging for students as many lack the resources to maintain their reading level. According to Scholastic, 53% of children heavily rely on their school library and 50% rely on their public libraries for the books they read for fun. Not having access to school libraries over the summer leads many children to read less than they normally would. Research conducted by Scholastic also found that 95% of parents agree that communities need public libraries and 95% agree that children need access to school libraries.


While most parents understand the importance of reading and libraries, many live in book deserts, where books are not easily found, adding to the struggle to maintain children's reading levels. In 2018, Scholastic reported that 14% of children aged 9-11 and 32% of 15-17-year olds read zero books over summer break. The reduced reading rates can result in lower reading levels at the start of the next school year. Oftentimes infrequent readers struggle to regain their reading levels when returning to school.


Join the drive

It’s not too late to help the MREF make a difference. Through August 1 – September 16, the MREF is holding a readathon to raise $30,000 for backpacks and school supplies in partnership with KINF. The money raised and backpacks full of essential school supplies will support underprivileged children in the United States and Canada. Visit backpackchallenge.org to donate, sponsor or participate.


Have a question about the Backpack Challenge or the MREF's mission? Reach out to Sarah Freske at sarah@mrgivesback.org.

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