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K to College media coverage

April 10, 2015

K to College is Building a Supply Bank

K to College is building a statewide supply bank, similar to a food bank, as a sustainable nonprofit solution to efficiently and systematically provide basic material needs assistance to all homeless and other under-resourced kids. This collaborative project involves manufacturers, several public agencies, corporate partners and more than 200 school districts and county offices of education.

Children Go Without Basic Material Needs Met

During the 2013-2014 school year, nearly 297,000 children and youth enrolled in California public schools were identified as homeless according to the California Department of Education (CDE). Based on academic research, a survey of more than 200 school district homeless liaisons and our own experiences with school districts that represent more than 90% of this population, we can conclude that the basic material needs of these children and youth are largely unmet. These are kids attending school without school supplies, clean clothes, the ability to brush their teeth and other symptoms of basic material needs going unmet.

While there are several actions needed to alleviate the many hardships faced by homeless children, the lack or absence of basic material needs assistance, which additionally impacts other impoverished kids, reflects the overwhelming need for one piece of the puzzle. Not discrediting the numerous community supply drives and like-minded efforts throughout California and the United States each year, they are in large part isolated to one particular community and thus lack scalability. Additionally, nearly all of these efforts do not coordinate with school districts, which are the only entities that can systematically distribute to those children and youth most in need.

Above: California's K-12 homeless population by county. Los Angeles County accounts for roughly one-fifth of the state's total with more than 67,000 homeless children and youth. In total, there were just under 297,000 kids statewide and likely more than 300,000 when accounting for children in the 0-5 age range.

The Need to Build a Statewide Supply Bank and How It Reaches Kids Throughout the State

What is needed for California to meet the basic material needs of children and youth is a statewide supply bank, similar to a food bank, which can efficiently and systematically provide assistance to all homeless and other under-resourced kids by working with local school districts and county offices of education. Food Banks were created to serve as a centralized distribution hub that could achieve economies of scale and simplify the process for farmers, government agencies and other parties to fight hunger, while also sending food to organizations on the front lines of hunger such as soup kitchens, shelters, churches and other organizations.

K to College’s supply bank will serve as the central distribution hub, with school districts and domestic violence shelters serving as front line organizations that systematically distribute to kids most in-need. Moving in this direction, K to College has partnered with more than 200 school districts and county offices of education establishing the statewide structure to systematically provide every homeless child with basic material needs assistance.

As required by the U.S. McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, each school district designates at least one McKinney-Vento (homeless) liaison. Often the point person(s) for our program coordination and planning, each liaison identifies homeless children enrolled in their district and is responsible for distributing goods, referring services and other support measures. To identify preschool-aged children we work with County First 5 Commissions, who can identify the best programs and/or shelters. Although eligible, children and youth residing in domestic violence shelters are not identified through the McKinney-Vento law, as their privacy is critical. Therefore, K to College partners with these shelters directly for distribution to the kids residing in their facilities.

Moving Forward

Preparing to distribute resources to several tens of thousands of kids in more than 200 school districts this coming year, K to College is continuing to develop additional partnerships to make this vision a reality – benefiting all under-resourced children and youth in California.

We invite you to sign up for our newsletter below and explore our site to learn how you can join this very worthwhile effort.

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February 6, 2015

K to College Continues Work in San Francisco, Serving 12,000+ More Students

San Francisco School Kids Receive $17,000 of School Supplies Courtesy of Unique Partnership and Hundreds of Volunteers

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: Today 250 happy kids at Sheridan Elementary School received $17,000 worth of school supply kits and early learning pre-K kits as part of a charitable event sponsored by Target and the nonprofit organization K to College. The kits were assembled last month by hundreds of volunteers as part of K to College’s statewide effort to engage thousands of volunteers to provide basic materials to homeless and other impoverished children.

Former San Francisco Supervisor and current Assemblymember David Chiu teamed up with San Francisco Unified Superintendent Richard Carranza and a dozen Target volunteers to distribute the donated supplies to the school’s students. Both guests spoke to the school about the importance of education and ensuring that pre-K children receive basic materials like those included in K to College’s early learning kits.

Listen to an Interview by Former California State President Carol Kocivar with SFUSD Superintendent Richard Carranza

“One of my top priorities in Sacramento is ensuring that all California families have access to affordable, high-quality preschool and transitional kindergarten programs,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “By providing backpacks filled with books, art supplies and other essential developmental materials, K to College is helping to ensure all children can access a high-quality preschool experience. I applaud their work in supporting thousands of San Francisco’s kids.”


Above: Target Representative Speaks To Sheridan Elementary Students

During the past five years, K to College has distributed more than 50,000 school supply and dental kits to San Francisco kids, totaling more than $3 million dollars’ worth of materials. This school-year, the organization provided school supply kits, oral hygiene kits and early learning kits to more than 12,000 low-income children throughout the city, focusing on homeless children where possible. This fall, thanks to contributions from Target and other sources, K to College will be able to assist at least 20,000 more disadvantaged kids throughout the Bay Area. This will include providing thousands of early learning kits, which K to College designed with the help of a committee of Bay Area early learning experts to address language/literacy skills, motor skills, cognitive/creative skills and other key forms of development.

“As a member of K to College’s Advisory Board, I’ve watched this organization grow to assist tens of thousands children and youth,” remarked Superintendent Carranza. “I’m excited that our students benefit from K to College’s expansion to serve preschool children, and I look forward to seeing K to College provide early learning kits to children throughout the state.”

K to College has an innovative, efficient approach to providing basic materials to kids in need. By serving kids throughout the state, the organization is able to achieve tremendous economies of scale, dramatically reducing costs. Additionally, the organization benefits from in-kind contributions and charitable partnerships with more than 220 other government and nonprofit agencies. The result is an ability to provide each child or youth served by the program with a kit containing $65-70 of basic supplies at approximately one-third of the cost.

January 28, 2015

Sacramento Kids Receive $18,000 of School Supplies

SUSD School Board President Darrel Woo & Sacramento Supervisor Patrick Kennedy
Sacramento School Kids Receive $18,000 of School Supplies Courtesy of Unique Partnership and Hundreds of Local Volunteers

SACRAMENTO, California – Today 270 happy kids at Susan B. Anthony Elementary School received $18,000 worth of school supply and dental kits as part of a charitable event sponsored by Target and the nonprofit organization K to College. The kits were assembled last month by hundreds of Sacramento area volunteers as part of K to College’s statewide effort to engage thousands of volunteers to provide basic materials to homeless and other impoverished children.


(Above: SUSD School Board President Darrel Woo & Sacramento Supervisor Patrick Kennedy)

Sacramento County Supervisor Patrick Kennedy helped to hand out the donated supplies to the school’s students, while also taking the opportunity to remind them about the importance of education. “As a former Sacramento Unified Board Member and a longtime advocate for Sacramento’s low-income communities, I welcome Target’s and K to College’s continued work to support those in need,” said Sacramento County Supervisor Patrick Kennedy. “K to College’s partnership with Target is an excellent example of how the public and private sectors can work together to support our community.”

Since 2010, K to College has distributed school supply kits and dental supply kits to more than 2,000 disadvantaged kids in Sacramento County and to hundreds of thousands more throughout the state. In 2015, thanks to contributions from Target and other sources, K to College will be able to assist at least 2,000 disadvantaged kids throughout the County. Most of those served this fall will be homeless children and youth, the population most in need of basic materials like school supplies.

“It means so much to our school and our community to receive this wonderful donation for our students,” said Susan B. Anthony Elementary Principal Lynne Ruvalcaba. “Nearly every one of our school’s students receives free school lunches and many of our families struggle to afford the basic supplies they need for class. We are grateful for this wonderful gift from Target and K to College.”

K to College has an innovative, efficient approach to providing basic materials to kids in need. By providing many thousands of school supply kits and dental kits each year, the organization is able to achieve tremendous economies of scale, dramatically reducing costs. Additionally, the organization benefits from in-kind contributions and charitable partnerships with other nonprofit agencies. The result is an ability to provide a school supply kit containing $65-70 of supplies at approximately one-third of the cost

K to College’s school supply kits contain back-to-school essentials like paper, pencils, art supplies, a dental hygiene kit and a whiteboard. This year K to College will donate materials to several tens of thousands of disadvantaged children and youth throughout California.


(Above: Susan B. Anthony Elementary Principal Lynne Ruvalcaba addresses her students)

December 7, 2014

500 Volunteers Gather to Package $500,000 of Supplies for Area Homeless Kids

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA — With pallets lining the perimeter of the ornate Memorial Auditorium, assembly lines stretching down the floor and hundreds of boxes stacked for the thousands of school supply and dental kits that will fill them, preparations were complete for the 500 volunteers that attended K to College’s California Volunteer Event—one of the largest volunteer events in Sacramento history. Prioritizing homeless children identified in public schools, K to College assembled 10,000 school supply kits and dental kits for children throughout Northern California. Modeling the business model of food banks, K to College says the effort is one example of how its “supply bank” model can solve the unmet basic material needs of low-income kids in California.

Special Thanks to Our California Volunteer Event Sponsors:

This is a point not lost on Assemblymember Jim Frazier, who first encountered K to College long before his career in Sacramento as one of K to College’s original volunteers in 2010. “When I first volunteered with K to College at a warehouse in Martinez, I quickly realized they had a unique ability to engage both the public sector and business community to solve a problem impoverished children confront throughout the state,” said Frazier, whose district has seen an increase in the number of homeless children identified in public schools. “That is why I have prioritized working with K to College to scale and replicate their ability to provide basic material needs assistance to homeless and other low-income kids throughout my district and the state.”

Echoing the sentiments of the Assemblyman is Mike Hannigan, President of Give Something Back Office Supplies, California’s largest independent office supply company and a founding partner of K to College. “This program is an excellent example of how government, the non-profit and for-profit sectors can collaborate to solve social problems,” said Hannigan. “From day one we have partnered with K to College because this program fits perfectly into our business model of giving back, but more importantly follows the approach of food banks, which has been very successful.”

The increased awareness of the unmet material needs of homeless and other low-income kids, coupled with the season of giving back to those in need, is what K to College says inspires such great volunteerism. “It’s amazing to see all the walks of life our volunteers come from,” said Don Solem, Board Chairman of K to College. “The broadness of volunteers reflects an equally broad interest amongst the public to confront and solve the issue of homeless children’s unmet material needs. This is one of the biggest events of its kind in Sacramento history.”

The statewide effort is also timely, as a recent report released by The National Center on Family Homelessness cited California as having 526,708 homeless children and a lack of infrastructure to address the varying needs of the population. In 2015, K to College plans to host similar events in San Diego, the Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Berkeley. In total they expect more than 3,000 volunteers to participate. In addition to Give Something Back Office Supplies, supporters of tomorrow’s event include Kaiser Permanente, Target, Huawei Technologies, the California Teachers Association and others.

November 19, 2014

Volunteer with K to College on Sunday, December 7th

On Sunday, December 7, 2014 we will gather hundreds of volunteers to assemble hundreds of thousands of dollars of materials into thousands of school supply kits, preschool kits and dental kits. Volunteers will include members of the state legislature, additional government officials, other corporate employees and employees of various state associations. The event will also serve as an opportunity to highlight our larger effort to ensure all of California’s homeless children have the basic materials they need to achieve. The assembled kits will be distributed to disadvantaged kids throughout California.

  • RSVP via Eventbrite!
  • For sponsorship and volunteer inquiries, contact Georgia Faulkner, georgia@ktocollege.org, (510) 569-5862

November 18, 2014

SFGate.com: State among worst on issue of child homelessness, report says

Image courtesy of The National Center on Family Homelessness at American Institutes for Research

The article below was written by SFGate Reporter Heather Knight. The full article is also available on the SFGate.com website.

The sheer number of kids in California who have nowhere to call home and the failure of the state’s leaders to address the growing crisis place it 48th among the 50 states for dealing with children’s homelessness — ranking it just above Mississippi and Alabama.

Those are the findings of a report released Monday by the National Center on Family Homelessness, part of the larger nonprofit American Institutes for Research, which conducts social science research. It found that nationwide, 2.5 million children — one in 30 — do not have a stable place to sleep at night.

California has 526,708 homeless children, the third most in the nation per capita, and the number has been climbing steadily since at least 2010. The report counts as homeless children who sleep in shelters and cars, on friends’ couches, doubled up with other families and other unstable living situations.

Even for those California children who are housed, their risk for becoming homeless is high because 24 percent of the state’s children live in poverty, home foreclosures remain common, and rents are high.

The report also ranks the wealthy, liberal state 49th for its leaders’ policy and planning around children’s homelessness. The state has just 1,650 emergency shelter spots specifically for families and 5,064 permanent supportive housing units for them, according to the report.

California has no state interagency council on homelessness, and Gov. Jerry Brown has rarely addressed the issue since taking office four years ago.

Evan Gerberding, director of external affairs for the state’s Housing and Community Development agency, said the governor’s office is “deeply concerned about homeless youth” and pointed to $10 million in grant funding for organizations that offer emergency solutions for families that become homeless.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who as mayor of San Francisco made homelessness his signature issue, wasn’t available for comment. He has slammed Brown for not paying enough attention to homelessness but has little power to address it himself.

Trent Rhorer, director of the San Francisco Human Services Agency, said California is finally making some strides. In his current budget Brown included $20 million for housing subsidies for families participating in CalWorks, the state’s welfare-to-work program. San Francisco will get $2 million and will use it to help 80 to 100 families afford rent, Rhorer said.

“The discussion around persistent poverty and the widening income gap in California, especially, I think has finally gotten policymakers’ attention,” Rhorer said.

Jennifer Friedenbach, director of the Coalition on Homelessness, noted that despite its wealth, California ranks alongside poor Southern states in its inability to house its children.

“It’s pathetic, frankly, that we’re doing so badly in California and we have such a big tax base to draw from in order to address the issue,” she said.

The federal government has long prioritized ending homelessness among single adults and has not provided states and cities with nearly as much funding for programs related to family homelessness.

Paul Boden, director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, which advocates for homeless people, said city and state governments have done a terrible job of demanding more money and attention be spent on housing families.

“Our hearts tell us we want to prioritize families. Our data tells us we want to prioritize families,” he said. “But money is everything.”

San Francisco, too, has prioritized single homeless adults for years, but City Hall is finally paying more attention to homeless families. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne, have donated money to city agencies and nonprofits to house homeless families, and the San Francisco Housing Authority is rehabbing some vacant units for homeless families.

The San Francisco Unified School District counts 2,100 public school students in the city as homeless.

Jeff Kositsy, executive director of the Hamilton Family Center, which provides housing and services to homeless families, said low-income families around the city and state are still reeling from the recession, but that San Francisco is responding better to it than other places.

“Whereas the numbers don’t look great in California around childhood poverty, I do think San Francisco has been gearing itself up to deal with this growing crisis,” he said. “It’s unfortunate the numbers are bad — it’s terrible — but I also think it’s important to look at what are the reactions.”

October 14, 2014

Huawei Back-to-School Partnership Reaches Record Number of Kids throughout San Diego County and State

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA — At an event held at Rolando Park Elementary School in San Diego, Huawei Technologies distributed a $65 school supply and dental kit to hundreds of happy students in the school’s auditorium. The distribution was part of Huawei’s greater partnership with the nonprofit organization K to College, who with Huawei’s support has provided basic materials to more than 12,000 kids in San Diego County and 20,000 kids throughout California during the past six months.


Former San Diego Unified School Board President and current Assemblymember Shirley Weber and San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten joined K to College’s Benito Delgado-Olson and 20 Huawei employees to hand out the supplies to all 240 students attending Rolando Park Elementary.

“We believe that children of all backgrounds deserve the chance to succeed,” said Alison Jenkin, Huawei’s Senior Director of Government & Public Affairs, who along with 20 volunteers from Huawei’s San Diego office spent the morning packing kits for the school’s students. “Huawei is committed to giving back to the community.”

According to the California Department of Education, 75% of Rolando Park’s students, and 51% of San Diego’s County’s K-12 students, are eligible for the federal free or reduced price lunch program, which serves as a proxy measure of family poverty. The program also worked in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education’s Foster Youth and Homeless Education Services Office to address the material needs of homeless students throughout the County.

Local leaders cited the importance of addressing the basic material needs of low-income children as part of support services. “As a former school board president and volunteer, I have personally seen how not having basic material needs met further negatively impacts children who are homeless or experiencing financial hardship. It reinforces a sense of isolation from other students and builds additional barriers to educational achievement,” said Assemblymember Weber, whose district includes Rolando Park Elementary. “That is why I am grateful to K to College, Huawei Technologies and all involved for their growing partnership that will reach more than 12,000 children throughout the San Diego County region this year.”

K to College is a nonprofit organization that operates the largest charitable school and dental supply program for underprivileged students in California. Huawei has also partnered with K to College throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley. K to College’s school supply kits contain back-to-school essentials like paper, pencils, art supplies, a dental hygiene kit and a whiteboard.

About Huawei

Huawei is a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider with the vision to enrich life through communication. Driven by customer-centric innovation and open partnerships, Huawei has established an end-to-end ICT solutions portfolio that gives our customers competitive advantages in telecom and enterprise networks, devices and cloud computing. Huawei’s 150,000 employees worldwide are committed to creating maximum value for telecom operators, enterprises and consumers. Our innovative ICT solutions, products and services have been deployed in over 170 countries and regions, serving more than one third of the world’s population. Founded in 1987, Huawei is a private company fully owned by its employees.

About K to College

K to College is a nonprofit operating the largest charitable school supply, dental supply and other material distribution program in California. From 2010-2013, K to College distributed more than $14,500,000 of school supplies, dental supplies and other basic materials to more than 230,000 children in more than 100 school districts throughout California. The program is projected to reach more than 200 county offices of education and school districts in 2015.

October 10, 2014

Stockton Record: "Nonprofit helping S.J. kids fight 'silent epidemic'"

The article below was written by Stockton Record Reporter Elizabeth Roberts. The full article is also available on the Stockton Record website.


(Photo courtesy of the Stockton Record)

STOCKTON — A cavity can cost a child more than a tooth. For children such as Washington Elementary first-grader Osvaldo Conde-Velasquez, it could cost them their future.

A schoolwide giveaway Thursday of nearly $20,000 in learning materials included a dental care kit in every bag, courtesy of the nonprofit K to College and Huawei Technologies. Osvaldo, 6, whose front teeth are capped with stainless steel, was ecstatic when he opened his.

There’s a surprising link between dental care and literacy — and a profound disparity in care — and educators and policymakers are increasingly taking note.

Dubbed the “silent epidemic” in a groundbreaking surgeon general’s report, untreated dental disease can lead not just to severe health problems but to chronic school absences as well. And those absences in turn are a major stumbling block to a child’s ability to learn how to read. A child who can’t read proficiently by the end of third grade — and two-thirds of the state’s third-graders are affected by tooth decay, a California Smile Survey found — is at risk of falling behind or dropping out altogether.

“One of the most significant challenges that young children face in becoming strong readers is chronic absences from school,” said Jennifer Torres Siders, who champions literacy in the community as part of her work with University of the Pacific’s Beyond Our Gates Initiative. Dental care, in fact, is one of the issues Beyond Our Gates hopes to study further in the near future. “It stands to reason if you’re not in class learning from your teacher, you’re going to have a hard time building all the he foundational skills you need in becoming a strong reader later on. And often one of the biggest causes of absences is poor dental health.”

The numbers in the 2000 surgeon general’s oral health report, the first of its kind, were staggering: Tooth decay was found to be the most common chronic childhood illness, with 51 million school hours lost to dental-related illnesses each year.

For poor children, the numbers are worse. Low-income elementary children suffer twice as much tooth decay as their affluent peers, and a 2010 study found almost 75 percent of low-income students in California had at least one cavity.

Every one of the students qualifies for free lunches at Boggs Tract’s Washington Elementary and fits into the low-income category, Principal Olivia Castillo said. That makes it the perfect venue for what K to College is hoping to become: “a supply bank just like a food bank for under-resourced children and youth that may otherwise go without,” said Benito Delgado-Olson, executive director of the Oakland-based nonprofit.

“It’s the right thing and it should already be happening,” said Delgado-Olson, who started K to College with Steve Frances and other University of California, Berkeley, students in 2007 and helped turn it into the largest effort of its kind in the nation. “It’s silly that there’s kids going to school and their basic material needs are unmet. We spend so much on education and now on health care, and for kids to be at school without paper and supplies and to have poor oral health be the No. 2 cause of absenteeism, it just shouldn’t be that way. That’s not a free public education.”

With Denti-Cal reimbursement at only about one-third of what private insurance pays, finding dentists who accept Denti-Cal, Medi-Cal’s dental program, can be a challenge. Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, who joined Stockton Unified Superintendent Julie Penn and other officials for the kit giveaway, said that’s something that can be tackled at the legislative level.

“These dentists come out of their dental education with half a million dollars in debt, so we need to find a way to make sure that if they put their dental education to public use that they have that debt relieved in some way,” he said after Thursday’s presentation. “I think that would make a big difference.”

In addition to the kits given out Thursday, roughly 2,000 more will be distributed to homeless children in San Joaquin County through other agencies and school districts, Delgado-Olson said. To date, K to College has given $14.5 million worth of supplies to 230,000 children in the state, and Huawei Technologies has been a key partner in the nonprofit’s efforts to expand.

“Yay for Huawei!” Washington Elementary's roughly 250 students shouted in the cafeteria as Penn led them in an “outside voice” chant. “I am college bound!”

“The San Joaquin Valley isn’t one of the first areas corporations tend to think of in terms of bringing needed supplies and volunteerism,” said Alison Jenkin, director of government and public relations at Huawei’s Santa Clara site. “To be able to give back and to be able to do this type of thing, it’s the best.”