Closing the Achievement Gap: How One Local Kiwanis Chapter Is Supporting Students In Need

Young girl raises her hand to ask her teacher a question while online learning during quarantine.

For many kids, the end of summer break marks the beginning of a new chapter: unfamiliar classmates, newly purchased outfits, and fresh school supplies. But for an unsettling number of families across the US, receiving the annual school supply list can be an anxiety-inducing transition into fall – and it’s easy to see why.

According to the National Retail Federation, families spend an average of nearly $700 on school supplies each year – an amount that can be compounded for households with more than one school-age child. For students who are unable to purchase everything on their list, the coming year often means entering a new grade at a disadvantage, both emotionally and academically.


So how is this barrier to success mediated?

More often than not, the burden of the supply gap is placed on our educators, with over 90% of US teachers taking an average of $450 from their own pockets to fill their classrooms with the resources their students need to succeed throughout the year. Here in the Tri-Cities, the Kiwanis Kennewick Young Professionals Club is looking to provide relief to the students and teachers of Eastgate Elementary – where 92% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch – with their 2020 School Supply Fundraiser. 

Continue reading below to learn more about the club’s efforts to support Eastgate by reducing the supply gap for the 2020/2021 school year from club President, Megan Farrow:


Q: What is the mission behind Kiwanis?

A: The mission of Kiwanis International is:

Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time.

As a local chapter of Kiwanis, the Kennewick Kiwanis Young Professionals was formed to create a group designed to accommodate the busy schedules of today’s professionals who, despite their full calendars, still want to take time to give back to their community. In our club, “young” is only relative to how young you feel.

Q: Why did the Kennewick Kiwanis Young Professionals Club choose to adopt Eastgate?

A: As a club, we thought we could make the biggest community impact by focusing our fundraising and service efforts on an area that was in the most need. We were inspired by our parent club, Kennewick Kiwanis, who adopted Amistad Elementary several years ago, and have continued to make a great impact since. After contacting the Kennewick School District, we were directed to Eastgate Elementary. Located in Kennewick, 92% of Eastgate’s students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. Despite the barriers faced by many of their students both in and out of the classroom, the staff at Eastgate provides a safe environment in which every student is set up to reach their highest potential and is well prepared for success. We want to support them in their mission and improve the lives of their students.

Q: What are some unique challenges faced by students at Eastgate both year-to-year and in the current pandemic?

A: Many of the children at Eastgate come from low-income households, and with the pandemic amplifying many of the problems students already faced, it’s become increasingly important for groups like Kiwanis to fill the gaps for those in need.

When the students were sent home to finish the school year, Eastgate needed to ensure that every student had a device they could use to complete their schoolwork. Those dependent on the free and reduced lunches needed alternative access to food, and students who may have relied on school supplies kept in the classroom lost access to resources and materials.

Q: What impact will this fundraiser have on both the students and teachers at Eastgate?

A: The School Supply Fundraiser is the first of many to help support Eastgate Elementary and their students. For every dollar raised, school supplies will be purchased to help relieve the burden felt by the families and students of Eastgate, and will set up students for success in the 2020/2021 school year. This will be especially beneficial to students who may rely on materials that are accessible only in the classroom.

Q: What are other ways members in the community can support our local students as they prepare for the coming school year?

A: Another great opportunity to support our local students is to contribute to 2nd Harvest’s Bite2Go – a program that provides students in need with weekend food supplies. $180 is enough to support a student for an entire year! Our club is planning future fundraisers to help support Eastgate students through this program. For more information about Bite2Go, visit: https://2-harvest.org/bite-2-go/.

Q: Who can someone reach out to if they are interested in joining Kiwanis?

A: Email: kiwaniskennewickyp@gmail.com;

find us on Facebook: @KiwanisKennewickYP;

or visit our website: https://kennewickyp.wixsite.com/kiwanis

To donate to the Kennewick Kiwanis Young Professional Club’s School Supply Fundraiser, click here.

Adriana Doyle