Will You Help Native Children on the First Day of School?

Can you remember the first day of a new school year: how excited you felt to buy new clothes and a fresh pair of sneakers, how meticulously you chose your backpack for the year and the excitement you felt with your friends? These back-to school memories are unfamiliar to some children, such as those living on remote reservations where jobs and shopping are limited.

Many Native American families are struggling to make ends meet, choosing between groceries, electricity and gasoline while pushing luxuries like school supplies lower on the list. With up to 61% of Native children living in poverty or low-income households, basics like school supplies that most children take for granted can be difficult to obtain.

The many Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools on the reservations are understaffed and ill-equipped to help. In fact, according to the Huffington Post, the BIE operates 183 K-12 schools, of which 127 are in “poor” or “fair” condition and 73 lack the funding for needed repairs, according to BIE data from 2021. The conditions and underfunding faced by BIE schools and the children inside them are a result of the U.S. government’s failure to uphold its treaty obligations to Native peoples. The tribes gave up millions of acres of land in exchange for treaty promises, many of them long since broken and all of them underfunded.

That is why Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) helps K-12 children every year, through the Annual Backpack Drive hosted by our American Indian Education Fund (AIEF) program. This year, we will provide at least 15,000 Native American students with backpacks before the start of the school year, each one filled with pencils, notebooks, markers and other essentials that will help these children succeed in their education.

But we need your assistance to meet this goal. Your donation can be the difference between a child falling behind in their studies or being ready to learn in the classroom. You can shop in our online store or donate here.

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