By Jon Delano

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Children are getting back to school, but many will arrive in class without the basic school supplies.

Jennifer Plumb teaches middle school math and appeared on The Sunday Business Page hosted by KDKA money editor Jon Delano.

Delano: “How bad is the situation out there?”
Plumb: “It’s different for every kid. An example: one student texted me — I give out my cell phone number out to students — and, ‘How was your summer?’ ‘Great.’ ‘Are you ready for back to school?’ ‘No, we don’t have money for supplies.’”

Unfortunately, one out of three local students does not have the basic supplies for school, says Justin Brown of the Education Partnership.

“We serve six counties — Allegheny being in the center — so when we look at that mix between urban and rural, it’s about one out of three,” says Brown. “Translate that to about 60,000 students and, unfortunately, Jon, that’s conservative.”

The Education Partnership is one local non-profit trying to meet a tremendous need.

“We started with the program of the teachers coming to us. That’s our core program, and it’s amazing how many teachers like Jenny [Plumb] get in their car on their own time, come across town from as far as Aliquippa, and six counties, to access resources at no cost at our center,” says Brown. “We are on target to distribute $5 million worth of school supplies at no cost.”

Laura Carlson of the Education Partnership described the adopt-a-school program where local companies pay for bags of supplies to help students.

Carlson: “This is a bag which we use in our adopt-a-school program where we partner with companies and businesses who are interested in supporting a specific school.”
Delano: “So a company can actually adopt a school in their neighborhood or someplace else?”
Carlson: “That’s right. That’s our main focus.”

About $25 supplies a child for the school year, and teachers open supplies to all.

“Everyone’s welcome. You need a pencil? That’s not going to be a barrier for me,” says Plumb.

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