School Supplies Relieve Stress on Native Families

Our Program Partner Rianna at Batesland School on the Pine Ridge Reservation wanted her students to start the year off with positivity by using the School Supplies service through the American Indian Education Fund (AIEF), a program of Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA). The distribution gave all students – nearly 200 – tools like paper, pencils, erasers, and rulers. We spoke with the Dean of Students at Batesland School, LeeVi, who has four children from 5 to 13 years old. As a parent, an educator, and a community member, she saw the incredible need that families have for school supplies and witnessed the relief when that need was filled by AIEF.

School Supplies Relieve Stress on Native Families

The average cost of school supplies is out of reach for many Native families – up to $789 per student in 2021. Through Partnership With Native Americans’ (PWNA) American Indian Education Fund (AIEF) program, we team up with Program Partners to distribute backpacks full of helpful learning materials. Our Program Partner Rianna at Batesland School on the Pine Ridge Reservation wanted her students to start the year off with positivity by using the AIEF School Supplies service. The distribution gave all students – nearly 200 – tools like paper, pencils, erasers, and rulers.

We spoke with the Dean of Students at Batesland School, LeeVi, who has four children ranging in ages 5 to 13 years old. As a parent, an educator, and a community member, she saw the incredible need that families have for school supplies and witnessed the relief when that need was filled by AIEF. “I see it from different angles. When students have supplies, they don’t feel pressure or feel ashamed or worried by not having what they need. When we tell parents we have supplies, they have a look of relief like they don’t have to worry. Teachers make up the difference out of pocket, and knowing we have these supplies on hand lifts the burden; it’s a huge relief for everyone,” LeeVi explained.

Students from preschool to eighth grade attend Batesland School, and they live all over the reservation. LeeVi said, “We bus kids from all over the rez, sometimes an hour one way.” She added that the school supplies “help a lot of communities overall – thank you!”

LeeVi noted that there aren’t many nearby options to purchase what her kids need for school, and she detailed the huge help that her family received through the AIEF School Supplies service: “With four kids, purchasing supplies is not only a financial task but physical, buying all the things. It’s a big relief as a mom who’s really busy. I don’t have to be worried about shopping or getting to a bigger town to purchase supplies. I can be here in the moment with my kids and know they’re going to have everything they need and not feel left out if they don’t have supplies. I save $100 per kid, so I really feel like I saved a lot of money and time. Your time is worth something too.”

LeeVi’s oldest, 13-year-old Isabella, loved her new notebooks that she’ll use for drawing and taking notes in her Lakota language and culture class. With her school supply needs taken care of, she can focus on studying and playing volleyball.

Isabella’s younger sister Elena is in the fifth grade this year. She also plays volleyball and loves to draw. In her free time, she looks forward to being a kid and making crafts with her new glue stick, crayons, and watercolor paint set.

LeeVi offered a big thanks to donors who made the school supply distribution possible with their generosity: “When people help with the little things, kids can focus on big stuff like learning and academic success.”

Donate to AIEF today to encourage Native students like Isabella and Elena to focus on living their lives instead of stressing about classroom supplies.

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