As the first day of school approaches, families all over Eden Prairie are busy poring over school supply lists and going shopping to fill backpacks with new supplies.
For many families, however, purchasing school supplies poses a financial challenge they may not be able to meet on their own.
Eden Prairie Schools’ (EPS) Back-to-School Supplies Program is here to support them. It makes sure that each EPS student is prepared for educational success by providing necessary school supplies at no cost to families experiencing financial hardship.
Backpacks and school supplies are matched with student needs. No questions or names are asked for, and no registration or income verification are needed.
The program is run through Eden Prairie Community Education (EPCE).
Reta Johnson, EPCE’s family resources specialist and homeless and foster care liaison, says: “Our most significant need is at the start of school, but we give out supplies all year long, as many families in need are moving into Eden Prairie Schools throughout the entire school year.”
Johnson says the resource center typically helps 500-700 students per year with school supplies. However, with inflation causing higher prices, she expects more students than usual to need support with school supplies.
The program is funded by support from the Eden Prairie Community Foundation, PROP, the district, multiple community businesses and individual donors, and area churches.
This year, several Eden Prairie churches also “adopted” schools they wanted to support: Wooddale Church (CMS & Eden Lake), Immanuel Lutheran Church (Prairie View), St. Andrew Lutheran Church (Forest Hills), Westwood Community Church (Oak Point), and Grace Church (Eagle Heights Spanish Immersion).
How to access supplies
Families experiencing financial stress who need support acquiring school supplies will be able to pick them up during upcoming back-to-school open house events. Families should ask staff about the school supplies program or ask to speak to the school’s social worker.
EP Online students who need access to supplies should contact Johnson at Reta_Johnson@edenpr.org or 952-975-7030.
For more information about the program and pickup times, visit the program’s website.
How to get involved
Johnson says families and groups who would like to support the program can contribute financially or donate new supplies. Both are always appreciated.
Eden Prairie Center is currently hosting a school supply drive that will support Eden Prairie Schools students. If you’re interested in donating, the top needed supplies are:
- Pencil boxes or pouches
- Washable markers
- Colored pencils
- Dry erase markers
- Composition notebooks
The Eden Prairie Center donation bin will be there until Sept. 11. It’s located just inside the mall entrance between Target and JCPenney.
If you’re interested in supporting the program with a financial donation or cannot get to the donation drop box to make a physical donation, you can contact Johnson at Reta_Johnson@edenpr.org or 952-975-7030.
If you’d like to learn about getting involved in other ways, the EPCE website has more information.