Tampa, Florida – With the start of each school year, thousands of East and Central Florida foster children and teens in crisis attend classes amongst their peers. Often, they are not as prepared as their classmates, lacking school supplies and proper school uniforms. To combat the challenges these youth face, Eckerd Connects is creating an opportunity for the community to support these children during the months of July and August.
The numbers are daunting. According to the Casey Family Foundation, seventy-five percent (75%) of children in foster care are working below grade level, and more than fifty-percent (50%) will never graduate from high school or obtain a GED. Young people who struggle with homelessness and the juvenile justice system are also behind due to trauma, displacement, and lack of resources. The funds raised in this campaign will go toward supporting these children with the materials they need to ensure a successful school experience.
“Too often, children and teens in crisis struggle academically because they lack the basic things they need to navigate the school year,” says Kelly Rossi, Director or Eckerd Connects Raising Hope. “This back-to-school drive provides so much more than pencils and paper, but also the confidence they need as they face a new year.”
Eckerd Connects runs 160-programs nationwide, but will use this supply drive to support six local programs in need of support:
• Project Bridge, a Central and south Florida program supporting teens as they transition from the juvenile justice system;
• Raising Hope, a Tampa Bay program providing hygiene items to those in foster care;
• E-Nini-Hassee, an all-girls outdoor therapeutic camp in Floral City, Florida
• Challenge Youth Academy, an all-boys juvenile justice center in Hernando County
• Foster children in Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties
To support the “Back 2 School” campaign, you can give supplies at any drop-off center (locations on Eckerd.org/Back2School) or donate on Eckerd.org. A gift of $25 can supports a child with either one school uniform or one backpack full of supplies. The campaign runs through August 2018.