Last month, the attorneys at Graves McLain were thrilled to be able to provide over 2,000 students with free backpacks. While the program was a bit different this year given the circumstances, the goal remained to provide elementary students with the supplies they need to succeed in school, whether in-person or virtually.
The backpack program began with one Tulsa-area school. This year students in five schools – Dolores Huerta Elementary, McClure Elementary, Unity Learning Academy, Springdale Elementary, and John Hope Franklin Elementary – were the beneficiaries of the program.
Recent studies show that back-to-school spending could easily run over $700 per family in 2020. This is a large amount of money for any family, but Tulsa families are especially in need. Nearly 20% of all Tulsa residents, and 29% of Tulsa’s children, live at or below the poverty line. Teachers also face a financial crunch – 93% of public school teachers spend money out of their own pocket for classroom supplies, and are often not reimbursed for these expenses. These costs are estimated to be, on average, $500 per school year.
As Tulsa Public Schools are starting virtually for several weeks this year, distribution was handled via drive-through events. Despite the fact that “traditional” personal interaction was not possible, the teachers still knew their incoming students’ names and faces, and they were so excited to see them. Their dedication to the kids is unmatched, and it shows. At these events, technological supplies and boxes of food were also given to the families. These events became opportunities to provide the students with items to help with everything they may need while learning virtually. Another benefit is that having a new backpack and supplies help to normalize the start of the new school year, even though it’s very different this year. Additionally, many of the students do not have the resources to obtain the needed supplies, so this program provides their families with some help and financial relief.
Supporting the Tulsa community is something that the team at Graves McLain is passionate about. The attorneys are involved in several organizations that benefit the community at large, such as Tulsa Lawyers for Children and Lawyers Against Hunger. The backpack program remains a passion project for them, as helping students in need is a highly rewarding experience.
If you’d like to assist with or donate to the 2021 backpack program, please fill out this form and a member of the Graves McLain team will contact you to discuss how you can contribute.