School supplies help vulnerable students overcome obstacles

School supplies help vulnerable students overcome obstacles

Due to the transition to a virtual learning environment for Carolina schools, parents and families may have a hard time accessing school supplies for their children to continue education from home.

Because of social distancing measures resulting from COVID-19, many students will split their time online and in-school. Between this and the economic downturn, families are finding it even more difficult to access supplies for their kids to complete their school year and not fall behind.

Charlotte Bilingual Preschool prepares Spanish-speaking children for success in school and life by providing superior dual-language early childhood education.

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“By supporting local organizations, you directly impact quality of life and outcomes for children and highlight the importance of equity for political leaders in our community,” said Banu Valladares, executive director of Charlotte Bilingual Preschool.

Charlotte Bilingual Preschool strives to provide all students with equitable access to education, providing a pathway for children to succeed in school and in life.

When the coronavirus crisis hit Charlotte, the United Way of Central Carolinas and Foundation For The Carolinas partnered to launch the COVID-19 Response Fund.

Charlotte Bilingual Preschool received two grants from the COVID-19 Response Fund. The first launched a suite of relief programs at the school and enabled it to continue operating early education programs remotely. Funds also provided 20 families with computers to access remote educational programs, with the long-term benefit of improved digital inclusion and literacy.

The second grant is bridging the COVID-19 summer learning gap for Spanish-speaking children and families through a new summer reading program.

“While the average student may lose 7 months of learning, Hispanic students may fall behind by 9 months and by over a year if families lack financial resources,” Valladares said.

The fund supports a range of nonprofits, assisting people most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Importantly, this fund will help not just those who get sick, but also those who are being economically impacted.

The school serves more than 400 Latinx children and family members most vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19.

Valladares said that 50% of North Carolina’s Latinx residents have lost their jobs, 74% do not have health insurance, and many are not eligible for relief programs due to immigration status.

“In response, our Family Programs team is managing a referral system to coordinate community resources to meet emerging family needs,” Valladares said. “Funds are needed to fill three immediate needs that are not being met by existing community resources.

“Many families lack technology to adequately support remote learning at home, and not all families are eligible to have their basic needs met through existing programs. Additional funds are needed to support two culturally appropriate summer programs for our preschool students, bridging the summer learning gap in the Latinx community.

“Our hope for our community is that they feel supported and uplifted during this particularly challenging time for Latinx and immigrant families and children,” Valladares said.

“We hope to equip our families with the tools they need in order to overcome the obstacles they will face throughout this pandemic.”

Many more vulnerable and low-income families depend on help from Classroom Central and 9 School Tools to provide simple supplies, such as paper and pencils.

Since 1997, in partnership with Classroom Central and Communities in Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the WSOC-TV 9 School Tools program has collected school supplies, which are then distributed free to students in grades K-12.

For many families, home needs sometimes outweigh needs at school. When a family must choose between buying enough food for dinner or paying the power bill, the pressure of purchasing school supplies is an added expense that families can’t afford.

A 9 School Tools financial donation program is in place with different levels of giving that will support the needs of Classroom Central. Donors can equate their monetary donation to what can be supplied by Classroom Central.

Here are some of the giving levels:

  • A donation of $9 will help provide homework supplies for students.
  • A donation of $25 will help fill a student’s backpack with school supplies.
  • A donation of $50 will supply a teacher with essential school items.
  • A donation of $100 will supply an entire class with STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) kits.

Learn more about 9 School Tools at

If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at