Man packing school supplies

Take the Wilder Tools for School Success Challenge

7/7/15 by Kathryn Schleich

Most people remember the first day of school. For many of us, late summer brings to mind crayons with untouched tips, fresh pencils and new backpacks. Going back to school should be time of excitement and promise.

The Wilder Foundation knows that not all kids get to experience that excitement because they do not have the tools that they need to succeed in school. As part of Wilder's mission focus to prepare and enable low-income children and their families to succeed in school, children who are served by Wilder receive school supplies and backpacks because of the Tools for School Success campaign. 

Tools for School Success is driven by donations from employees, businesses and individuals, and it’s no small task. Since the first backpack drive in 2006, Wilder has nearly tripled the number of backpacks collected. We hope to provide backpacks and supplies to more than 1,100 students this year, all through donations. The 2016 drive runs from Aug. 1-18, and I am asking for your help to make it a success.

The Value of an Education

As a former community college instructor in English and speech, I volunteered to assist with Wilder’s backpack campaign because I know the value of an education for children in our community. I understand the need because I have seen first-hand how difficult it can be for students who lack the right tools to succeed.

Because of my personal experience in education, I have been committed to providing backpacks and school supplies through various organizations for about 10 years. I am a firm believer that no child should start the school year without the proper tools.

Every child deserves the opportunity to learn and succeed. The best way for them to do that is with a backpack filled with the supplies they need. Find out more about how you can help.

Why Do Backpacks Matter?

For kids, a backpack can mean much more. Having a backpack and supplies the same as other students is normalizing. For example, kids in Wilder’s supportive housing are often transitioning out of a shelter into permanent housing. They may have few or no memories of living in stable housing and have felt the effects of distress and poverty.School success is the pathway to lifelong success and resiliency, and having the right school supplies is an essential tool that helps children learn, build on their self-esteem, improve their overall well-being, and set and achieve personal goals. 

A backpack with school supplies is theirs. Having such tangible items to call their own can be a part of the transition back to normalcy. We want kids to go to school, learn, and know that they belong.

I invite you to join me in Wilder’s Tools for School Success drive. Helping children thrive in school means a better outlook for us all.

Join Us

If you or your organization would like to become involved in the campaign, contact Laura Brown at or call 651-280-2445. We welcome donations of backpacks, supplies, or financial contributions. Thank you for your support!

Kathryn Schleich, a Saint Paul-area writer, has volunteered to help Wilder with the 2015 Tools for School Success campaign challenge. This is her second year participating in the backpack drive.