With most Canadian youth heading back-to-school this week, families have been checking school supply lists and collecting everything needed for their kids to return to the classroom.
But, as Canada continues to power out of the pandemic with economic recovery, many families continue to struggle to meet their most basic needs, including simply affording pencils and notebooks to send their children to school.
Statistics show that approximately half of all Indigenous children in Canada, and one out of five equity-seeking families, are living in poverty. This is where Rogers backpack drive has helped thousands of youth across Canada since the initiative first launched.
Over a two-week blitz and working in partnership with community organizations from coast-to-coast-to-coast, over a hundred employees safely volunteered to assemble and fill the backpacks with school supplies and distribute them to organizations working with youth in need. 100% of the donated backpacks were distributed to vulnerable equity-seeking youth, including those living in shelters or community housing, to equip them with the essential tools they need for learning.
Rogers worked with local organizations and school boards across Canada to deliver the school supplies to underserved youth in the community. Partners include the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre and Southern Interior United Way in British Columbia, The Board of Trustees Edmonton School Division and Calgary Board of Education in Alberta, MacDonald Youth Services in Manitoba, Thames Valley Education Foundation, Toronto Foundation for Student Success, Peel Learning Foundation, and the Education Foundation of Ottawa in Ottawa, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Montreal in Quebec, and Moncton Headstart in New Brunswick.
The national initiative grew from a grassroots backpack drive started by Rogers employees Shealee Free and Rebecca MacMillan a few years ago after Free witnessed a mother at a local store counting and rationing pencils, and telling her children she couldn’t afford everything they needed for school. This sparked a local drive that has now grown into a company-wide initiative, helping thousands of youth across Canada.
In addition to the backpack drive, Rogers is proud to help youth achieve their highest potential and remove barriers to education through Ted Rogers Scholarships, Ted Rogers Community Grants, and programs like Jays Care Foundation’s Rookie League. We are also helping bridge the digital divide through device donation programs to keep kids connected to mentors and by offering its low-cost high-speed internet program Connected for Success™ across the Rogers coverage area to support low-income families.
“Every year, the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society provides over 500 backpacks to young urban aboriginal children and youth. We truly see the value behind providing backpacks filled with school supplies to children as a positive impact that is strongly felt in our community. We are able to ensure that children have the ability to attend school with quality supplies, while families do not have the added expenses. This year, due to COVID -19 our event has been modified. However, with the support of Rogers Communications Inc., the VAFCS is able to meet our annual promise to over 500 indigenous children and youth by supplying them with backpacks!” commented, Kaila Wong, Program Administrator, Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society.
“For some, back-to-school shopping comes with feelings of excitement and curiosity around what to buy and all of the matching attire. For others, this season comes filled with worry and concern. Parents sometimes have difficult choices to make between providing their child(ren) with a backpack of school supplies or paying a household bill. That is real life for some of our students within the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. Thanks to the generosity of Rogers Communications, our vulnerable families can take one thing off their list of concerns. Providing backpacks means children are going to school ready to learn and YOU are not letting them get left behind. Today’s student is tomorrow’s worker, so know that you are investing in our future generation when you choose to give a backpack today,” said, Clarissa Arthur, Executive Director, Education Foundation of Ottawa, supporting students within the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.
“We are truly grateful to Rogers and their teams for supporting the students at Calgary Board of Education. There was a great need this year for backpacks and supplies for kids from Kindergarten to grade 12. Rogers made it possible for students to return to school with the necessary supplies to support their learning. This support impacts not only the students, but their families, teachers and fellow students,” said, Hilary Jenkins, Communications Advisor, Calgary Board of Education.
“Thanks to the support of Rogers and generosity of its donors, nearly 250 young people from Greater Montreal, aged 6 to 17 were able to receive a backpack filled with various school supplies. Buying supplies can be difficult for some families and we are happy that these young people were able to get support for this back-to-school period. The organization is also facing significant demand following the pandemic and nearly 200 young people are still waiting to create an inspiring mentoring relationship. So whether through a donation or through involvement as a volunteer, everyone’s support will help young people reach their full potential,” commented, Maxime Bergeron Laurencelle, Executive Director, Grands Frères Grandes Soeurs du Grand Montréal.
“It’s so important for children to have school supplies and backpacks when they start school in September. Thanks to Rogers Toronto our beyond 3:30 Junior students will be well supported. Way to go Team Rogers!” said, Catherine Parsonage, Executive Director & CEO at Toronto Foundation for Student Success.
“Thank you, Rogers, for providing backpacks jam packed with essential school supplies for some MYS children and youth!” said, Mindy Barsky, Fund Development Officer, Macdonald Youth Services (MYS).