Saturday, July 31, 2021

Expanding the Universe


Teacher life is spending $200 on supplies for your classroom and then deciding $20 shoes for yourself are too expensive.

That’s the tweet that brought from deep within me both a smile and a wince. If you’re a teacher, you know. You know there is never enough money for what needs to be done for your students and weighing the decision between materials for the classroom and a new pair of shoes is a familiar one. 

I learned this week that I’m not the only person in Columbia/HoCo that had such a visceral response to that tweet when I received an email from Roy Appletree who, with his wife Sue, has co-chaired 
Prepare for Sucess for the past fourteen years. He wrote, 

All I knew was that the $200 tax deduction nowhere matched what Sue [a retired teacher] spent for supplies for her students.

Prepare for Success is fairly well-known in our community but, for those of my readers who may not have heard of it, I’ll let their own words speak here:

…who we are and what we do - providing backpacks filled with schools supplies for children who otherwise would not have them in the Howard County Public School System. Last year, we were able to help 4,000 students! But, there are more than 20,000 students in need, our true goal is to help as many as possible and 100% of our donations go towards that effort.  So please, let's expand our universe of donors!! 

Three things strike me here:
  • 4,000 students helped last year
  • 20,000 students in need
  • Expand our universe 
In celebrating their successes and acknowledging how much more needs to be done, the folks at Prepare for Success are asking their core group of donors and volunteers to extend their reach. To bring the message and mission of Prepare for Success to people and places it hasn’t been before. To expand their universe. To make more connections.

So, here I am. I am deeply convicted by the mission of Prepare for Success because I have seen throughout my career that what is called by some an “achievement gap” is really an opportunity gap. By providing school supplies to students in need Prepare for Success is addressing that opportunity gap at the beginning of each school year. (This year is their 21st.) 

Beginnings are important. They often set the tone for what is to follow. A brand-new backpack and supplies gives a student a sense of being a part of the school community rather than being set apart because of poverty. If that helps these students feel better about themselves and gives them the tools they need for learning then their own universes are set to expand. It gives them more opportunities to make learning connections which will make their worlds bigger.

Here’s how you can help.

It’s important to note that Prepare for Success has the ability to get good prices by buying in bulk, so, if all you have time for is to make a quick monetary donation, you should know that it will pack a big punch.*

Here’s their website. Here’s where you can donate. (And learn about school supplies donations and their Amazon Wishlist.) But wait, there’s more: tell someone. Expand the universe. 

You may think that everyone knows about this already but, they don’t. The other day when I wrote about the Harriet Tubman School I discovered readers who had not known about it. You can be the person who brings the story of Prepare for Success to a new audience. You can make more connections. 
  • 4,000 students helped 
  • 20,000 students in need
  • Expand the universe
If you have some good ideas on how to expand the universe, let me know

*From the website:

By making a monetary donation, we are able to make your dollars stretch. To get the most supplies for the lowest prices, PFS makes wholesale purchases from a national education supplier. Our price of a backpack filled with required supplies average out to about $25 per student. That’s far less than the cost of buying retail at local stores. 100% of monetary donations are used towards the purchase of school supplies.

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