Family Focus

Tepper Foundation joins battle to combat pandemic learning loss

Even as students return to classrooms this back-to-school season, the economic hardships of the pandemic won’t suddenly disappear.

Teachers will still spend one paycheck on school supplies every year, and half of our local student population will return to class empty-handed.

What’s more, students will need extra support and resources to overcome pandemic learning loss from the past year.

The Nicole and David Tepper Foundation, John M. Belk Endowment, Panthers Charities and Classroom Central will supply 15,000 students with backpacks full of supplies this fall.

The giveaway, valued at over $525,000, is part of Classroom Central’s Backpacks & Basics Program, an effort that outfits the region’s highest poverty schools with supply kits and backpacks for their entire student body.

Schools must be 70% free and reduced lunch or higher to be served through the program.

The Nicole and David Tepper Foundation encourages the Charlotte business community to join Classroom Central’s Backpacks & Basics challenge and sponsor an additional 15,000 backpacks, to support a total of 30,000 students in need this back-to-school season.

“The Nicole and David Tepper Foundation is pleased to partner again with Classroom Central to serve high-needs students in our community,” said Nicole Tepper. “Thousands of local students need extra resources to overcome pandemic learning loss. Please consider joining this important effort.”

Additionally, Classroom Central’s Free Store is a retail operation where teachers and other school personnel from eligible schools shop for free supplies throughout the academic year.

All materials distributed are used to create inviting learning environments and to support the academic and personal growth of students whose families lack the resources needed to purchase school supplies.

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.

Covering 22 counties, 9 School Tools is the largest school supply drive in the Carolinas and will run now through Aug. 31.

Classroom Central’s Free Store is designed to provide all the materials teachers need to create successful learning environments.

In addition to basic supplies like pencils, paper, notebooks, glue sticks and folders, teachers will find backpacks, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) materials and lesson plans, a literacy section that includes books and lesson plans, copy paper, arts and crafts materials, classroom decorations, cleaning supplies, personal care items and more.

The average value of supplies received by a teacher at one shop is about $400.

According to Classroom Central, about 127,000 children in the Charlotte region lack the basic school supplies they need to be successful in school.

With a difficult past year and the economic downturn, families will find it even more difficult to access supplies for their kids to complete their school year and not fall behind.

Many of the more vulnerable and low-income families depend on Classroom Central for assistance.

You can donate the school supplies at any Arby’s, Ashley HomeStore, E.R. Plumbing Services and Charlotte Fire Department stations.


Financial donations can also be made to the 9 School Tools program that support Classroom Central.

For example:

· 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 and mathematics) kits.


Learn more about 9 School Tools at

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

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