Welcome to UNICEF USA!
Stay informed on UNICEF's work saving and protecting children around the world
Where to Donate School Supplies to Help Kids
Backpacks, notebooks, No. 2 pencils, binders, calculators, new sneakers. Kids across the U.S. eagerly cross those items off their back-to-school shopping lists. But in many parts of the world, families can't afford backpacks — or the things that go in them. In some countries, schools are so underfunded students must learn sitting on the ground.
Today, far too many children grow up in places where there are obstacles to getting an education. And that was true before the pandemic. When COVID-19 shut down schools worldwide, children were already facing a global learning crisis. Over 50 percent of 10-year-olds in low- and middle-income countries graduate from primary school unable to read. And more than half of the world’s children and young people lack internet connection, affecting access to remote learning.
COVID-19 has heightened the urgency to address the digital divide and unequal access to quality education. An estimated 23.8 million children and youth are projected to drop out of school because of the pandemic. UNICEF is working to keep them learning.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, UNICEF's innovative ways of addressing exclusion and inequality to help keep kids on track became more important than ever. UNICEF adopts and adapts technology to provide distance learning, delivering learning materials and school supplies to children at home and supporting the creation of education programs on radio and TV. UNICEF is also coordinating with governments' health, child protection and water, sanitation and hygiene sectors to help schools reopen safely.
Many of the world's children are back in school, like those shown above in their classroom in Dori in Burkina Faso’s northeast Sahel region. But government budgets increasingly strapped by COVID-19 and steep drops in family incomes have created an enormous need for school supplies.
Children from India, West Africa, Syria, Yemen, Bangladesh and elsewhere around the world need notebooks, pencils, backpacks and sports equipment, now more than ever. But a whole new set of safety standards to protect children and teachers from COVID-19 has added a host of additional must-haves to the back-to-school list: hygiene supplies such as soap and hand sanitizer, handwashing stations for schools, thermometers and more.
Where Can I Donate School Supplies?
Every child has a right to an education. UNICEF has supported that right for decades by helping people who wish to donate school supplies get them to the children who need them most. All you have to do to help is go to UNICEF Inspired Gifts and select the school supplies you wish to donate. UNICEF will deliver them where they can make a world of difference to a child and maybe even a whole classroom or school. Read on to learn how UNICEF's continued efforts to donate school supplies ensure kids who live in the world's toughest places acquire the knowledge and skills they need for a brighter future.
Six years of fighting between armed groups in Burkina Faso has destroyed or shuttered 10 percent of the nation's schools, denying over 300,000 children an education. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the obstacles to learning. In 2020 all the nation's schools — over 20,000 — closed to stop the local transmission of COVID-19, impacting the education of 5 million children.
At UNICEF-supported Child-Friendly Spaces, children like the boys above, who are taking a break from their soccer game, have received emotional support to deal with these twin crises. UNICEF has also set up temporary classrooms stocked with learning materials and recreational equipment to help kids cope with the profound stress of living amid violence. By donating school supplies and sports equipment, you can help children learn to read and form connections that help create peaceful environments. © UNICEF/UN0237255/Figula
Before COVID-19 shuttered schools, UNICEF's educational supplies were what you'd expect — backpacks like those belonging to the girls above from Baruta in Venezuela’s Miranda province, notebooks, pencils and other essentials for in-classroom learning. But when the pandemic shuttered schools, UNICEF expanded its educational offerings to include food to help families struggling to make ends meet. It's difficult for children to learn when they are hungry, so in 2020, UNICEF not only provided more than 555,000 children in Venezuela with school supplies but also supported the distribution of food kits through the nation's schools. Over 100,000 students took home rice, beans, flour, oil and salt and the hygiene basics — soap, paper and bleach — that families have needed to stay healthy and safe. © UNICEF/UN0344474/Prieto
Fieruz, 16, is a new student at the school in the Adi Harush camp for Eritrean refugees caught up in the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region. She and her parents and three siblings are among the 1.6 million people displaced. Before fleeing to Adi Harush, they lived at the Hitsats Refugee Camp, which was heavily damaged after fighting erupted in the region last November.
Now that she's back in a classroom, Fieruz counts herself lucky. Unlike most children in Ethiopia, 1.3 million school-aged children in Tigray have not returned to school following COVID-19 restrictions. “Life is much better for us here now that we have started school,” says Fieruz, who has even reconnected with some of her friends from Hitsats in her classes.
One of the first humanitarian organizations to come to Tigrayans’ aid, UNICEF is fighting for their right to learn by providing school kits and exercise books. With a partner's help, UNICEF also aims to increase the school's water supply. But the needs remain immense: Students and teachers are still making do without furniture, equipment, supplies and materials. © Ethiopia/2021/Nahom Tesfaye
A young girl reads her UNICEF exercise book at the Qudhac-Dheer Primary School in Hargeisa, Somaliland. In July 2019, UNICEF, the Somaliland Government and the UN via its Education Cannot Wait (ECW) fund launched a multi-year initiative to lessen the impact of poverty, food insecurity and the nation's recurrent droughts on children and young people's education. In 2020, the initiative was tested when another crisis emerged: COVID-19. During the pandemic lockdown, children and young people received education supplies like books and solar lamps from local partners and the Somaliland Ministry of Education with ECW funding. The supplies helped kids continue their studies from home until school reopened at the end of 2020. © UNICEF/UN0414907/Naftalin
Eleven-year-old Andres wants to be a scientist and astronaut when he grows up. But he lives in Venezuela, where the economic crisis has derailed the lives, safety and security of millions of children. Art therapy at a child protection center outside Caracas helped Andres (here, having fun with UNICEF's Regional Director of Latin America and the Caribbean, Maria Cristina Perceval) and thousands of other kids cope with the stress of an uncertain future. © UNICEF/UN0330462/Párraga
Top photo: Children attend class in Dori in Burkina Faso’s northeast Sahel region. © UNICEF/UN0489309/Dejongh