Last Friday, we met up with our friends from the United Way’s Emerging Leaders Council at Compadre y Compadre’s new home at the old SAISD Steele Elementary School where hundreds of boxes awaited us. Inside were thousands of backpacks donated by Sea World and even more school supplies, and we spent the next few hours filling the backpacks with school necessities for kids aged 3-8 and sorting them into groups for 6 different school districts. At the end of the day, we’d unpacked, stuffed, and repacked more than 2,500 backpacks, all ready to be sent across San Antonio for students to receive at their schools.
This back-to-school event was a fantastic effort by ReadyKidSA, San Antonio’s one-stop resource for raising smart, healthy, happy kids. ReadyKidSA, a collaboration of more than 60 early childhood service providers and agencies, seeks to align resources across Bexar County and equip parents and caregivers with all the information and tools they need to raise their kids. As an initiative of United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, ReadyKidSA takes a data-driven approach to providing families with everything they need to support their children—from before they’re born to age 8.
This includes developmental milestone checklists, resources on finding doctors, information on physical fitness, mental health services, and much more. Parents and caregivers can call 2-1-1 for information and referrals, and they’ll soon be able to visit the ReadyKidSA website for free tools, community events, and more.
At SA2020, we’re proud to be a part of ReadyKidSA, because we know that a strong foundation for early childhood development can affect so many factors later in life. If we invest in children early on, our community will see the benefits well into the future as those children grow up healthier, become less likely to commit crimes, and see higher earnings.
In fact, the goals of ReadyKidSA have direct ties to SA2020’s own goals and indicators: decreasing child abuse and neglect, increasing kindergarten readiness and third grade reading, and improving the health of our community. We know that to move the needle on issues like these—issues that we prioritized as a community in 2010—we have to work together and align our efforts. That’s why we’re so glad to be a part of a collaboration as strong as ReadyKidSA, and why we loved helping assemble backpacks for San Antonio students.
To distribute these backpacks to students and families, ReadyKidSA used San Antonio data on kindergarten readiness (‘cause just like us, they love data) to identify schools with the most need. The backpacks, separated by grade levels pre-K through fourth grade, went to schools in Edgewood, Harlandale, Southwest, Northside, Northeast, and San Antonio ISDs. ReadyKidSA had determined a need for school supplies within these districts, and we were happy to put together stylish backpacks and school supplies for these students.
And while we couldn’t reach all the students who needed school supplies this year, we were proud to see the rest of our community contributing, too. Communities in Schools has been “stuffing the bus” for weeks by partnering with local businesses and encouraging individuals to donate school supplies. San Antonio Food Bank launched a campaign at local coffee shops and received 421 pounds of school supplies. And city council members, including Ron Nirenberg, Mike Gallagher, and Alan Warrick II, hosted their own drives and celebrations to provide students in their districts with the supplies they needed to get ready to go back to school.
To us, this is what SA2020 is all about: addressing challenges using data, bringing organizations together to help close the gap, and catalyzing the community to fill in when they’re needed.
Thanks to ReadyKidSA, Whataburger, Sea World, and Compadre y Compadre for making ReadyPacks for ReadyKids happen—and thanks to else everyone who helped our students get ready to go back to school. Whether you gave your time, money, or colored pencils, you’re truly helping us move the needle in San Antonio.