Tools for School: Why Pens and Pencils Matter

By Paul Mina
It’s hard to believe that in a matter of weeks teachers and children will be heading back to schools. While school districts make tough decisions about what the school year will look like, one thing is certain: learning isn’t cancelled. 
When schools return in September – in person, remote, or hybrid – students will still need school supplies for their academic work. School supplies help pave the way toward academic success by providing children with the tools they need to begin learning on the first day of school. In a (potentially) remote learning environment, it becomes impossible for a child to ask a peer or teacher to borrow an extra pencil or sheet of graph paper. Students who start school with the supplies they need in the classroom and at home are more motivated, have higher self-esteem, and enjoy a better learning experience overall. Across a lifetime, this leads to higher rates of high school graduation, secondary education pursuits, and career success.
For families struggling to make ends meet and those who have lost some or all of their income since March, purchasing several hundred dollars of school supplies for each child becomes a reality that is further and further out of reach. To meet this growing demand, our Tools for School program provides children in need with a new backpack full of grade appropriate school supplies to start the year strong with everything from crayons to calculators.
This year the United Way of Tri-County’s Tools for School program will provide new backpacks full of school supplies to over 2,000 children in the Metrowest/495 Corridor region. This is an increase of 136% over 2019 as families who have not needed support before are looking for help for the first time. To learn more about Tools for School or to sponsor a child, please visit our website
To all the students, faculty, and staff heading back to school next month, we wish you a good and healthy year.