World Vision Warns of a Crisis in the Classroom as Millions of Families Struggle to Afford School Supplies

-- Aid agency says supply donations cannot keep up with escalating demand

-- Teachers under increased pressure to buy supplies; World Vision Teacher Resource Centers assisting

Aug 20, 2012, 13:00 ET from World Vision

SEATTLE, Aug. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- As National Back to School month begins to come to a close, World Vision teams across the country are warning that millions of children will go back to school without basic supplies due to the weak economy and an 8.3 percent national unemployment rate. This summer, the Christian humanitarian organization is seeing the requests for backpacks more than quadruple the supply. Despite the end of the recession three years ago, donations have continued to fall short of pre-recession levels.

  • In 2007, before the start of the recession, World Vision distributed close to 46,000 backpacks across the nation compared to over 24,000 last year; a 48 percent decrease
  • In Seattle, over 10,000 are on waiting lists for backpacks this summer, nearly a quarter will receive them
  • In Dallas, approximately 12,000 requests for backpacks have been made, nearly 1,600 backpacks filled with essentials supplies will be distributed

"We are deeply concerned about the needs our staff are seeing in the field and also by reports showing the U.S. economic recovery is the weakest since World War II," says Romanita Hairston, World Vision's vice president for the charity's U.S. programs. "It's not uncommon for us to hear of children coming into classrooms without any supplies. As parents struggle to make ends meet, teachers, many of whom are already facing deep budget cuts, may shoulder a heavier burden for buying school supplies."

To meet the need teachers face, World Vision maintains seven Teacher Resource Centers in Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and Appalachia. These resource centers serve schools that have a high rate of children on free or reduced lunch. Teachers can go "shopping" two times per school year for a variety of classroom supplies from pencils and paper to books and math tools.

"Even though teachers have a national average starting salary of only $30,377, a majority report they spend their own money to provide a better leaning environment for their students," says Reed Slattery who runs World Vision's Pacific Northwest Teacher Resource Center. "Research shows that teachers already spend an average of $623* of their own money on school supplies and many teachers I work with spend a lot more."

In fiscal year 2011, World Vision provided classroom supplies to 8,727 teachers nationwide, serving approximately 220,000 students. As the U.S. economy continues to take a toll on children, families and school districts, World Vision has embarked on an 18-month campaign focused on growing and sustaining funding for their work in the United States. The humanitarian agency is seeking partners for the Rebuilding Hope at Home campaign, to help serve an additional 22,000 at-risk children, raising the total to 242,000 annually.

For more information or to make a donation visit:

*National Center for Children in Poverty, 2010; National Survey Finds 97 Percent of Teachers Will Do Whatever it Takes to Help Kids Learn, by Kelton Research for Office Max April 2010:


World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision's United States Programs is committed to transform communities, promote justice, and relieve suffering in the U.S. where poverty is prevalent by empowering children and youth, increasing the capacity of individuals, families, churches, and other organizations, and unleashing the assets of our partners. Visit World Vision's U.S. Programs at: For more information please visit Or follow them on their Twitter site at @worldvisionnews.

SOURCE World Vision