Cooler than ever: CSU delivers record number of backpacks

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More than 200 volunteers helped sort supplies, stuff backpacks and make deliveries to PSD schools as School is Cool helped a record 3,108 students.

More backpacks. More money raised. More smiles for area underprivileged students.

That sums up the 25th edition of School is Cool, CSU’s grassroots, employee-fueled program that provides Fort Collins students with new backpacks and supplies to start the school year. Thanks to record-breaking support and significant work from 200-plus volunteers, every Poudre School District student on the free and reduced lunch program who needs them should have new supplies to start the school year.

“What an amazing way to celebrate our 25th anniversary,” said Kathy Phifer, longtime CSU employee and founder of School is Cool. “I can’t tell you how thrilled we are with our results this year. We set records for money raised and, because of that, managed to supply nearly 600 additional students this year.”

Filling students’ needs

CSU has worked the past few years with Supply Our Students, a collaborative effort with OtterCares, Volunteers of America, Realities for Children and several faith-based organizations to provide supplies for the 8,000 PSD kids in Fort Collins, Wellington, Timnath and mountain schools in the free and reduced lunch program. For the past several years, those groups have been able to supply about 7,500 backpacks, leaving approximately 600 students without the supplies needed to start the school year.

School_is_Cool_logoBut this year, thanks to support from hundreds of donors, the CSU Bookstore, the Bohemian Foundation and Costco, School is Cool raised more than $52,000 – shattering the previous record of $45,107 set last year. Those additional funds helped School is Cool volunteers purchase supplies for an additional 592 students.

25 years of helping

“Over the past 25 years, Poudre School District kids have been fortunate to have the support of Colorado State University’s School Is Cool program. As always, their hard work and dedication enables all students to start the school year with the tools they need for success,” said Beth Higgins, PSD’s partnership and foundation coordinator. “This year, we are grateful again to CSU and to all of our community partners for reaching even more students than in years past – 3,108 kids just through the School is Cool Program alone! – and thousands of others through additional community outreach programs. A huge and heartfelt thank you to CSU staff, supporters and volunteers for keeping all of our kids’ futures bright. This program has truly made a significant difference in the lives of kids across our district.”

School is Cool, which provided 62 supply-filled backpacks in its inaugural year, has now provided more than 40,000 backpacks to area students since 1992. Donations are accepted throughout the year.