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Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: September 2016

IBISWorld Goes Back to School with Operation Backpack

Back-to-school spending will rise this year, as the cost of supplies continues to skyrocket. IBISWorld has teamed up with Volunteers of America’s Operation Backpack to bring you this year’s consumer spending release, aimed to help homeless kids in NYC obtain school supplies.

Parents and students are expected to spend $27.3 billion on back-to-school products this year, based on estimates from the National Retail Federation (NRF). Back-to-school spending has increased since 2013, as per capita disposable income levels improved and families were more willing to spend on new clothes, electronics and other products for their school-age children. The average family spends roughly $674.00 on school-related merchandise, with new clothing, shoes and electronics accounting for most of this expense. According to the NRF, back-to-school shoppers will spend roughly $108.00 per household on basic school supplies, including notebooks, binders and backpacks, in 2016. The average cost of a fully equipped backpack alone for a K-12 student is $81.00, according to Operation Backpack, a community service branch of Volunteers of America dedicated to providing essential school supplies to underprivileged students in the Greater New York area.

According to latest available data from the Census, public school districts spent roughly $11,000.0 on average per student in 2014, with nationwide enrollment reaching 48.3 million students that year. While school districts nationwide have come against budgetary constraints and cuts to educational funding, the price of most school supplies has continued to rise. The composition of a typical student backpack has also continued to shift in the past five years, with many students now required to purchase USB drives and other electronic products as school districts become more technologically integrated and rely less on printed media. According to a survey conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers, 44.0% of respondents noted that they would spend more on back-to-school supplies in 2016 because of new school requirements, while 35.0% noted that prices for many supplies had increased since 2015.

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Operation Backpack

There are more than 18,000 children living in New York City homeless and domestic violence shelters who struggle to purchase basic school supplies. Operation Backpack, a community service of Volunteers of America, aims to ensure each of these children obtain fully equipped backpacks by the start of the school year. Last year, 19,400 fully stocked backpacks were distributed to children living in more than 150 shelters. The nonprofit seeks donations of brand-new backpacks, as well as financial assistance in filling the backpacks with school supplies. To donate, please visit

By: Ibrahim Yucel

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