United Way of San Diego County Hosts Virtual Back to School Drive to Help San Diego Students Succeed


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Photos courtesy of United Way of San Diego County.

Public encouraged to purchase new school supplies from the nonprofit’s Amazon school supply wish list throughout the month of August

SAN DIEGO (Aug. 12, 2021) — Local students are gearing up for back to school, but for many families still experiencing the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic it may be difficult to get the supplies they need to start the year off right. To support students most affected by the pandemic as they return to school, United Way of San Diego County (UWSD) will host a month-long virtual back to school drive. The public is encouraged to select, purchase, and donate new school supplies from United Way of San Diego County’s Amazon School Supply Wish List.

From backpacks to markers, notebooks and more, UWSD hopes to collect enough school supplies by Sept. 1 to help set up hundreds of local students and their families for a successful school year.

“Last year, the pandemic disrupted the routines of many families in our community,” says Nancy L. Sasaki, president and CEO, United Way of San Diego County. “From lost wages to health challenges, the economic stability of families everywhere was tested, and educators and parents became equal partners in the difficult work of teaching our youth. Through our back to school drive, we hope to not only relieve our families in need, but also provide equal access to high quality learning opportunities to all students.”

The stakes are high for our students, but we can help them catch up. At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, students of color experienced six to 12 months of COVID-related learning loss, compared to four to eight months for white students. By the fall, students of color were also more likely than their white peers to be learning remotely, and less likely to have live access to teachers and the appropriate technology to log into their learning environment. It is also now predicted that COVID-related cumulative learning loss could be substantial. These numbers exacerbate the already significant educational and opportunity gaps that our diverse students face, resulting in students of color being up to 12 months behind by June 2021.

Additionally, summer reading loss is known to compound over time and high school graduation can be predicted with reasonable accuracy by knowing someone’s reading abilities at the end of third grade. Students who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. “We are focused on ensuring that youth in San Diego County have the equal opportunity to catch up, meet educational milestones, and ultimately graduate high school on time despite the effects of the pandemic,” continued Sasaki.

To ensure a more equitable society where all children have the chance to succeed, UWSD has adopted a new strategy for improving San Diego’s future, “Mind the Gap: EDICT 2030.” EDICT stands for “Ending Disparities In Communities not Thriving.” Through EDICT 2030, UWSD encourages the community to mind the gap by volunteering, getting their companies involved, and donating to help end systemic inequity.

In addition to donating school supplies through the nonprofit’s Amazon Wish List, monetary donations can also be made directly to UWSD to support the organization’s ongoing efforts to ensure students have the tools they need, and the stability at home to succeed in school. UWSD’s virtual back to school drive is sponsored by Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan, which is an independent member of the Blue Shield Association. For more information and ways to get involved, visit uwsd.org.

“Virtual Back to School Drive”
Hosted by United Way of San Diego County
Aug. 1-31, 2021

For 100 years, United Way of San Diego County has aligned with partners to address inequities in the region and help underserved communities. United Way’s specialty lies in identifying sustainable, long-term goals and achieving them through leveraging data and partners’ expertise to better understand root causes and putting impactful solutions into action.

United Way’s work, in partnership with others, uses shared goals, innovation and proven practices to transform the lives of children, young adults and families in the San Diego region. United Way focuses on educational milestones, such as kindergarten readiness, third-grade literacy, high school preparation, and college and career pathways. Learn more and get involved by visiting uwsd.org, Facebook, Twitter, or by calling (858) 492-2000.