“Our block party in Englewood started off as a small, unorganized idea three summers ago and now it has become an annual neighborhood tradition. It’s such a good feeling to be able to not only support the children we serve, but also the community we’re rooted in.”
~ Michel Quezada, Manager of Family & Community Engagement

Chicago communities connect as they get ready to return to learning!

Every August, Children’s Home & Aid teams up with volunteers, donors, staff, and partners across the state to help kids of all ages prepare for school and ensure that parents and caregivers have one less thing to worry about as fall approaches.  

This year, we provided nearly 2,000 children and youth from eight of our programs across the Chicago-area with backpacks and supplies like notebooks, binders, pencils, color pencils, and folders so that they have the tools to thrive as school begins this fall. We wouldn’t have been able to make such a big impact without our generous corporate partners: Mutual of America, Chicago Bears, Chicago White Sox, UBS, Enchanted Backpacks, CDW, Alpine – ITW, Dashiell, and Get the Victory. 

We hosted our third annual Returning to Learning school supply drive and block party on August 14th at our 5958 S. Marshfield Avenue location in Chicago’s Englewood community. This incredible community event was sponsored through a $10,000 grant from Mutual of America. 

The warm day yielded a great turn out, with more than 300 Englewood residents stopping by to pick up back-to-school supplies, dancing to the tunes of DJ Hot Rod Washington from Power 92.3FM. Even Ald. Raymond Lopez of the 15th Ward stopped by and was all smiles. 

In total, 375 bags full of school supplies were provided to families for the upcoming academic year. Through the August 14th event, 325 meals were also given to Englewood residents, 50 families received utility assistance gift cards, and 50 new parents were given baby kits with items like diapers, wipes, bottles, clothes, toys, and car seats.  

Arthur, a dad in our Thriving Fathers & Families program, brought his daughter to the event. Both were equally excited about the possibility of returning to the classroom. “My kids were on the honor roll before the pandemic. When virtual became the only option, their grades started to fall,” Arthur said, as he reflected on the unexpected challenges his family navigated last year. “My kids missed their friends and participating in any sports and after school activities. I had to become creative and do my DAD thing.” 

Local businesses Kusanya Café and Brown Sugar Bakery provided treats and a raffle was also held during the event, featuring prizes such as sports memorabilia from the Chicago Bears and Chicago White Sox and kid-friendly electronics.  

Families Prepare for Back-to-School Events Around Illinois 

In central Illinois, the excitement of back-to-school time was evident. We provided a variety of supplies, Discovery Museum passes, and other assistance to families in five of our Parents Care & Share groups with the support of our community partner, the Child Protection Network in Bloomington. 

Our Southern Region Advisory Board came together with staff and volunteers to organize our 2nd annual Southern Region School Supply Porch Drive to much success. The event has already grown considerably and rallies a broad array of supporters, benefiting children and teens in all our programs throughout the region.  

“Our supporters, like always, showed up in a big way this August! In just two weeks we exceeded our original goal, bringing in a total of 453 backpacks stuffed with school supplies for kids of all ages. This type of momentum truly speaks to the long-standing generosity of our donors and their commitment to families.” 
~ Beth Hunter, Volunteer Coordinator, Southern Region 

More than 80 donors, including Sen. Rachelle Crowe (D- Glen Carbon), Holland Law Firm, The Event Ally, and Logan & Logan Management & Accounting Services, got involved in the community effort, collecting key supplies including binders, notebooks, loose leaf paper, deodorant, clear water bottles, earbuds and backpacks.  

Our Work Isn’t Finished 

Children’s Home & Aid is committed to working where the need is greatest, especially in Black and brown communities where systemic racism and fewer resources can often add to challenges of parenting. We’re dedicated to ensuring that families can access the critical emotional, social, and educational tools they need to thrive.

With the start of school just on the horizon, your support is needed now more than ever to make sure families have the tools they need and feel empowered to make the choices that are right for them in these unprecedented times.  

For information on how you can help kids and families in our communities all year round, contact Liz Startz at estartz@childrenshomeandaid.org. You can also support early childhood education programs through our agency’s annual September Gala

Together, we can ensure a brighter, more equitable future so that every child and family can thrive. 

“The dedication of our donors and partners has helped to grow events like the one in Englewood so that we can continue to respond to the reality of what families are facing right now out in our communities.” 
~ Michel Quezada, Manager of Family & Community Engagement

Other Important Partners and Supporters of Our Back-to-School Efforts: 
Chicago Region: R.A.G.E., WBEZ, Pep Rally Takeover, Not Before My Parents, All Things Through Christ Outreach Ministries, Neighbors Who Vote, Chicago International Charter School, Illinois Department of Public Health Vaccination Programs, Cure Medical Lab. Southern Region: Express Scripts, SCH Foundation, and Essendant Charitable Foundation.