School is Cool provides boost for CSU employees and their kids

Colorado State University employees have long been known for having huge hearts – and there’s no better example of that than School is Cool.

Established 27 years ago, School is Cool provides top-quality backpacks filled with grade-specific supplies to underprivileged students in Poudre School District schools. Over the years, the program has provided more than 40,000 backpacks, and its primary funding source has always been CSU employees.

School is Cool logo 2018Last year, however, School is Cool started a new tradition by helping those within the university’s walls: CSU employees. Ninety backpacks were set aside for children of CSU employees – and all of them were eagerly claimed.

“For most families, getting a backpack and buying school supplies for their children is not a big deal,” said Emma Chavez, a community resources coordinator in the Office of the University Ombuds and Employee Assistance Program. “But for many employees, this is a very important program. When I handed out those backpacks last year and saw the smiles on the faces of our employees, it really made my day. The impact this has on those families is huge.”

Rams helping Rams

Chavez, who has worked at CSU the past four years, said many who work at CSU don’t realize that some of their fellow employees – particularly those with families – struggle to make ends meet.

Emma Chavez
Emma Chavez

She said some of the recipients were grandparents who haven’t had to deal with schools or buying school supplies for many years but are now caring for their grandchildren.

“It was a great help to them; they were so thankful,” she said.

Others are new to the U.S. and have no idea how to navigate the process of getting their children prepared for school. Providing supplies is just another challenge.

“They have no idea how to get supply lists, or what to buy, and many simply can’t afford to provide supplies for all of their children,” she said.

Chavez said her favorite part of the program is that every employee who participates – either as a donor, a volunteer or a recipient – is rewarded.

Creating community

“This program helps our employee community immensely, but I also know it really makes our employee donors feel good knowing they are helping their fellow employees,” she said, adding that she’s hoping for 120 backpacks this year. “For the people who get the backpacks, it makes them feel like they are part of a community that cares about them – a place where their fellow employees care about them. In turn, that makes (recipients) feel proud of where they work. I love that relationship.”

School is Cool 2018 kicks off Aug. 7, when dozens of CSU and community volunteers will gather to complete the three-day process of sorting supplies, stuffing and delivering 2,500 backpacks to elementary, middle and high schools in PSD. Volunteer slots have been filled but you can still donate to School is Cool online and help a young student start the school year on the right foot.