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This summer, Evanston/Skokie School District 65 is partnering with Caring Outreach by Parents in Evanston (COPE) and the District 65 PTA Council in an effort to provide school supplies for students in need. Nearly 40% of students who attend school in the District qualify for free or reduced price meals. “With the start of school right around the corner, there are many children and families who need our support,” said Dr. Maria Allison, District 65 Chief Strategy Officer. “We are excited to partner with COPE, D65 PTA Council, and the communities of Evanston and Skokie to equip our students with the necessary supplies to feel prepared to learn and ready for success this coming school year.”

COPE and the District 65 PTA Council are hosting a school supply drive and fundraising initiative with a goal of raising $15,000. Individuals and organizations are invited to make donations to help support this initiative. By attaining this goal, school supplies can be purchased for approximately 700 district students in need. COPE is working to organize community support and raise funds, District 65 will source and order the supplies, and the PTA Council will coordinate volunteers to assemble and distribute supplies so all funds raised can be dedicated to the cost of the supplies.

The initiative is off to a strong start thanks to generous donations by the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) and Foundation 65. Each organization donated $2,500 towards this important cause. “The Evanston Community Foundation is pleased to step up in support of this effort again this year,” said Sara Schastok, president and CEO of ECF. “Helping Evanston children feel supported and fully prepared to start a new school year adds value to other grants we are making to benefit children and families. Here’s the thing: With nearly 2,600 D65 students participating in the free and reduced meal program, this year’s $15,000 goal is ambitious but by no means enough. ECF and Foundation 65 are spearheading this effort in collaboration with COPE and the District 65 PTA Council and we encourage others to join us.”

“It is amazing to be part of a community, like Evanston, where organizations and families come together in support of our students.  Foundation 65 is proud to be part of that effort,” said Lise Jinno, Executive Director of Foundation 65. Throughout the year, Foundation 65 funds programming across District 65. “While our grants typically support literacy and arts programming, we recognize and understand the importance of making sure all children have a successful start to a new school year. Our Board wanted to do all that it could to help.”

Several businesses within the community, including Curt’s Café, Little Beans, Maya Papaya & Tony Macarony, and Starbucks, are getting behind the effort by hosting school supply drives at their locations. For a complete listing of drop-off locations, please visit www.district65.net. “We want to make sure every child is ready, prepared and excited to start school on day one,” said District 65 PTA Council President Kristin James.

Last August, District 65 officials and the PTA Council learned that the Evanston non-profit, Kids and School Supplies (KASS) had been disbanded and would no longer be providing supplies for students and reached out to the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) for assistance in helping to fill this pressing need. In response, the Foundation awarded the District a Community Catalyst grant for $2,500 that was increased to $9,000 thanks to additional grants from five of ECF’s donor-advised funds. Coupled with donations from Foundation 65, community members, and Evanston businesses including Maya Papaya & Tony Macarony, Office Depot, United Way, Verizon Wireless, and a supply drive hosted at 12 Starbucks locations, over 600 District 65 students received much needed school supplies to start off a new school year. This year’s initiative hopes to raise an additional $5,000 to support even more students and families.

“COPE is excited to add the yearly school supply drive to its mission,” said Juliet Bond, COPE Executive Director. “We know that the need in Evanston is great and we hope to fill that need by collaborating with community organizations who care about making sure that every child is prepared for a great school year!”

Donations can be made by visiting the District 65 website at www.district65.net or on the Evanston Community Foundation website at www.evanstonforever.org. For more information about donating, please call COPE at (847) 905-6332 or email careteam@evanstoncope.org. For more information about the school supply drive and fundraising initiative, please visit the District 65 website at www.district65.net