Keeping it cool: McConnell gets first look at backpack program

Joyce McConnell School is Cool
CSU President Joyce McConnell got her first taste of School is Cool, the university's school supply backpack program that benefits more than 2,600 area children.

CSU’s annual School is Cool backpack program got just a bit cooler this week when President Joyce McConnell took time out of her busy schedule to stuff backpacks with a group of volunteers.

McConnell, who just started her second month as CSU’s president, was getting her initial look at School is Cool, the iconic program entirely staffed by volunteers now in its 28th year. Since its humble beginnings in 1992, when CSU employees donated enough money to purchase backpacks and supplies for 66 underprivileged students in Poudre School District, the program has donated more than 48,000 backpacks filled with grade-appropriate supplies.

“What is better than starting a child with fresh school supplies and giving them a sense of excitement about the new school year?” McConnell said Tuesday following her stuffing experience. “(School is Cool) is really symbolic of the spirit of Fort Collins and CSU working together to make the lives of children in this area more fulfilling.”

Joyce McConnell School is Cool
Joyce McConnell high-fives one of the volunteers on her team helping stuff backpacks for School is Cool.

Team success

McConnell took the time to introduce herself to all of the volunteers on her small team before diving into the task at hand – stuffing dozens of backpacks for kindergartners with new supplies. Before her 30-minute visit was over, all kindergarten backpacks had been stuffed and readied for delivery to PSD schools. CSU’s first female president then high-fived her teammates and wore a happy grin.

“I love teamwork – it makes me really happy,” she said. “I had great people to work with and a great team partner, and I have a bit of a competitive streak. I wanted to make sure we got it done in the shortest amount of time possible.”

2,614 smiles in area schools

By the end of the week, when all of the backpacks have been delivered, CSU will have provided 2,614 elementary, middle and high school students with the academic tools needed to succeed. The Bohemian Foundation and CSU Bookstore are major sponsors, but most of the funding comes from CSU employees, alumni and community members – the same way it has been since the beginning.

“I think this program absolutely reflects our CSU Ram values,” McConnell said. “I think children being raised feeling the support of the community makes a huge difference in their experience of belonging in the world. The more a community can support its children and lift them up, the better the community will be.”

You can donate to School is Cool year-round; $25 buys a backpack and high-quality supplies.