The most comprehensive list of school supply drives in Austin is back! We’ve got everything you need to know to find the best nonprofit to benefit from your school supply drive. Plus, a few tools to help you give better. And new this year, a whole new way to give gently used school supplies.
NOTE: Publishers, please don’t copy this list for your site. GivingCity Austin has been compiling and updating this list for almost 10 years, and it’s so frustrating to see our work stolen. Feel free to link to this page if you want to share a list of school supply drives. Thanks!
But again – first – let’s update you on why it’s so important to donate school supplies. Back to school is expensive for most Central Texas families. Here’s why:
- A family of four that makes $867 a week is considered “low-income”. That means they qualify for a free or reduced lunch. (The regular price of lunch is $2.90. Reduced lunch is 40 cents.)
- In Central Texas, 44 percent of all students are considered low-income. In AISD, it’s 53%. In Del Valle it’s 87%.
- The average cost of school supplies is $45 per student, not counting clothes, shoes, laptops. The National Retail Federation says the average spend per household for back-to-school shoppers was $668 in 2017.
- Teachers spend an average of $656 per year on classroom supplies, out of their own pockets, according to the Texas State Teachers Association. And by the way, the average salary of a Central Texas teacher was $50,924 in 2019, according to the E3 Alliance.
In other words, students and teachers in Central Texas are barely scraping by on supplies. More often, they go without. We say this every year, but it bears repeating: Your donation of dollars and/or supplied is extremely meaningful.
Want to make the most impact? Follow these four suggestions:
1. Give money. Monetary donations are better than donations of actual school supplies. Many of these organizations like For The Children can purchase school supplies in bulk, so your donation of $20 will go a lot further.
2. Give supplies you have. That being said, if you have a crate of glue sticks to unload, by all means donate them. Remember that name brands count for some teachers and schools, so if you can spring for the Crayola brand, that helps. Just remember to donate a gift, not a burden. And it’s best to give directly to a school or teachers, in this case. See No. 3 below.
We heard that a new Austin nonprofit called uSupplies.org is collecting and distributing donated, lightly-used and new school supplies. They’re run entirely by volunteers, so you can donate and also help by collecting donations in June/July and distributing school supplies throughout AISD in August. If donating is easier, all donations go directly to the purchase of collection bins and supplies for teachers.
3. Give to a teacher or school directly. If you miss one of these school supply drives, consider giving directly to a school. Most schools offices open back up the second week of August for teacher orientations and trainings. Call the office in the morning to ask about when you can drop them off.
(Also parents, if you can swing it, try giving a gift card to Wal-Mart/Target/HEB at the beginning of the year to help your teachers set up their classrooms right.)
4. Volunteer. While your group really wants to collect a big pile of school supplies, you might also consider signing up for distribution days. Lots of opportunities below.
5. Host a school supply drive. Everyone loves to pitch in for a school supply drive at the office. Make sure you launch it 2-3 weeks before the deadline – as early in July as possible – and promote it the whole time. It takes more promotion than you think, so get the word out via email, flyers, and on the company intranet. You might have a supply drop-off point or even and event, and serve pizza to celebrate. For more about organizing group volunteer events, click here.
NEED SCHOOL SUPPLIES? First, call 2-1-1 on your phone. They are a free service that can connect you to help in your area. You can also contact your school (try the second week of August). They can either let you know if you qualify for school supplies or direct you to an organization that can help.
List of Central Texas School Supply Drives
FOR THE CHILDREN – Ongoing
Since it was started in 1988, For the Children hopes to provide supplies for 56,000 Central Texas kids this year. That’s 60% of all kids who need help with supplies. Can you help them reach more?
DONATE: While the average cost for one kid’s school supplies can be $45, you donations to For the Children can go much further. A one time gift of $25 will support 7 students, $50 will support 14 students, $100 will support 28 students. A monthly recurring gifts of $10 recurring will help 40 students. Click here to make your donation. You might also consider joining their “Crayon Club”, which allows you to join at levels between $700 to $3500 and designate the funds to a specific school. Learn more about Crayon Club here.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit the new For the Children website.
AUSTIN PARTNERS IN EDUCATION – Ongoing
Austin Partners in Education connects the community to the classroom and supports over 120 schools in AISD schools with programs in tutoring, mentoring, and college and career readiness. It also collects in-kind donations for the schools.
DONATE: Donations are accepted throughout the school year, with a special emphasis on school supplies during the summer months before the start of school. Donations will be distributed to any AISD school that is in need. Donations can be dropped off or pick up can be arranged. Also, take a look at their list of school wishes. You can see a list of schools in AISD and see – and fulfill – their needs.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Dawn Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org, 512-637-0983.
MANOS DE CRISTO – July 22-26
For approximately 20 years, Austin nonprofit Manos de Cristo has held its Back-to-School program, which helps thousands of Central Texas elementary school children each year. The program prepares 2,000 low-income students for the school year by providing each child with two sets of new clothing, socks, underwear, and a brand new backpack filled with school supplies. This year, help from the community is needed to continue the program. The Program costs the nonprofit $60,000; they are looking for funding to ensure the program can continue.
DONATE: Just $60 per child underwrites the cost to provide a child with two new sets of clothing, socks, underwear, and a brand new backpack filled with age appropriate school supplies. To make a donation, visit Manos Back to School Program.
VOLUNTEER: Manos’ Annual Back-to-School distribution day will be held July 22-26, at Allan Elementary School, 4900 Gonzales St, Austin TX 78702). Sign up via SignUp for shifts: Morning 7:45 a.m. – 11 a.m. shift or afternoon shift from 10:45 a.m. – 2 p.m. Opportunities include welcoming clients, entertaining children, helping students select clothing and supplies, and cleaning up. They’d love someone to volunteer to take photo or video and bilingual volunteers to help with registration.
PICK UP SCHOOL SUPPLIES: Monday – Thursday, July 22– 26, 8 am – 2 pm, or Friday, July 26, 8 am – 10:30 am, while supplies last, at Allan Elementary School, 4900 Gonzales St, Austin TX 78702). Community volunteers will help 400 children each day through the program. Visit Manos de Cristo for more information.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit Manos de Cristo, or contact Lily Lombardi at 512-628-4202 or at email@example.com.
COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS – July 30 - Aug 13
DONATE: More than 1,000 Communities In Schools (CIS) students will need school supplies when school starts back. Children who face challenges such as poverty, violence, homelessness, and hunger shouldn’t have the added burden of starting school without basic supplies. You can help! Your donation of $18.20 will provide a CIS student with a backpack and supplies. Click here to donate.
Supplies will be distributed on the campuses where CIS has programming (63 in Central Texas) for students enrolled in CIS. To find out if your child’s has CIS program at his or her school, contact your school’s office.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Communities in Schools of Central Texas
AUSTIN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT – Aug 4
On August 3, Austin ISD will host the 14th annual Back to School Bash Celebration and Safety Fair from 8 am – Noon at the Palmer Events Center. Almost 150 community and district organizations will offer exhibits for AISD families to learn more about the services and programs that can help students enjoy a safe and successful school year. More than 11,000 people are expected to attend and AISD is providing free shuttles that run every 30-45 minutes from locations throughout Austin.
VOLUNTEER: AISD raises money to purchase the supplies via corporate sponsorships, but volunteers are needed on the day of the event to help with crowd control, lost and found, and other strategic areas. Bilingual volunteers are preferred, especially speakers of Arabic, ASL, Burmese, Farsi, Mandarin, Pashto, Spanish and Vietnamese. Find volunteer slots and sign up here.
PICK UP SCHOOL SUPPLIES: Free backpacks of school supplies will be available to students in Austin ISD, while supplies last. The event will also offer presentations on safety and educational best practices; nurses from Dell Children’s/AISD Health Services to provide free vaccinations (families must present student shot records), and Kids Vision for Life Central Texas to provide free vision exams and eyeglasses.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit AISD Back to School Bash
ROUND ROCK PARTNERS IN EDUCATION FOUNDATION – Aug 5
DONATE: Round Rock ISD currently has over 13,000 students who qualify for free basic school supplies. Monetary donations are now being accepted for Round Rock Partners in Education Foundation. Donation levels are designed to meet both corporate and individuals’ giving budgets. Individuals might want to “adopt” a student ($10 per child) so they may receive a bag of new school supplies. For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation to help purchase school supplies, please contact Melissa Schmalbach at 512-464-5600.
VOLUNTEER: Volunteer opportunities are available for Back to School Celebration on Sunday, July 28, taking place at the Dell Diamond 3400 East Palm Valley Blvd, in Round Rock, 78665. There are two volunteer shifts for each volunteer area. Sign up on SignUp.
PICK UP SUPPLIES: The Back to School Celebration, held in partnership with the Round Rock ISD, Round Rock ISD Partners in Education (PIE) Foundation, Round Rock Police Department, Round Rock Police Foundation and Round Rock Express Baseball Club is set for Sunday, Aug. 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Dell Diamond, 3400 East Palm Valley Blvd, in Round Rock. Students within the community will receive free school supplies, food and wellness checks while supplies last. The entire event is free and will also include live entertainment, sports clinics, vendor booths and so much more! Additional access to community service opportunities and Round Rock ISD resources will be available.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation to help purchase school supplies, please contact Melissa Schmalbach at 512-464-5600.
HINDU CHARITIES & JEWISH FEDERATION – Aug 13
VOLUNTEER: The school supplies have been ordered and will be packed on Sunday, August 11, starting at 12:30 pm at Dell Jewish Community Campus on 7300 Hart Lane, 78731. The schools will pick up the supplies. The organizations raised funds for school supplies for more than 1,400 homeless children in Del Valle, Manor and Austin ISDs. Light refreshments will be provided and there will be some activities for the kids. Children, adults and seniors invited.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Pankil Matalia at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Hindu Charities for America.
SAFE BACK-TO-SCHOOL DRIVE for SAFE SCHOOL
DONATE: SAFE School serves students K-12 who are currently living, or previously lived, in a SAFE residential program. Partnering with the University of Texas Charter system, the school provides educational and behavioral support services in an environment that promotes safety and healing for survivors of sexual and domestic violence and child abuse.
Donations of supplies may be dropped off at SAFE’s Donations Warehouse or you can view their Amazon Wishlist to have them sent directly.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit SAFE to see the list of supplied needed and learn where to drop them off.
SALVATION ARMY BACK TO SCHOOL DRIVE – July 1 - Aug 9
Salvation Army hosts more than 100 children in their emergency shelters in Austin, many of whom arrive at the shelters with just the clothes on their backs. You can help provide the supplies and clothes they need to start school better. See here for a list of the school supplies needed.
DONATE: Any amount helps. Your dollars go to buy tissues and colors, socks and jeans, and everything in between. Click here to donate. If you’d rather purchase supplies and donate them, you can drop them off at the Salvation Army’s area command at 4700 Manor Road, Austin TX 78723. You can also purchase from the Salvation Army’s Back to School Registries at Walmart and soon Amazon
VOLUNTEER: Host a school supply drive! Send an email to VolunteerAustin@uss.salvationarmy.org or call 512-604-5910 before August 1 to arrange it.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit Salvation Army Back to School Drive
TRAVIS COUNTY BACK TO SCHOOL SUPPLY DRIVE
The Travis County Sheriff’s Office and Travis County ESD #5 are collecting school supplies for the 2019-20 school year. Donated school supplies will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
DONATE: See the list of items needed and the seven locations accepting donations on the Travis County’s website.
PICK UP SUPPLIES: School supplies will most likely be distributed on the first Saturday of Austin, at the Travis County ESD #5, Manchaca Fire Rescue, 665 FM 1626, Austin, 78747. Information wasn’t available at press time.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit TravisCountyTX.gov
PHOTO: From Realty Austin’s 2016 school supply drive.