You might be surprised at what you’ll find in your child’s backpack. Scratch the surface and, of course, you’ll come up with notebooks, pencils, crayons, maybe a half-eaten candy bar or an almost late homework assignment. But dig deeper and you’ll discover hope, opportunity, confidence and caring—the things that all students should be carrying around with them all day, every day.
A simple backpack can help set a child in an underserved community on a life changing course. Now six years into the Mike Morse Law Firm’s Project Backpack, we’re seeing the amazing results of simply ensuring that every student enters the classroom each year carrying all the supplies needed to move ahead with his or her studies.
An urgent need for supplies
Several years ago, I heard about an urgent need in Detroit Public Schools. Many families of elementary students simply could not afford school supplies for their kids, much less a backpack to carry them in. Children were coming to school with limited supplies, many carrying them in garbage bags. Teachers were spending thousands of dollars out of their own pockets to supplement what was needed.
For me, this was not only heartbreaking but also unacceptable.
So, in May 2015, working with the Kids in Need Foundation, our firm gave backpacks stuffed with school supplies to 400 students in Detroit’s Wayne Elementary School. The smiles on those kids’ faces, the new eagerness in their approach to their schoolwork, and the seeds of success that began sprouting convinced me that we could make a real difference in the futures of Detroit students by providing supplies to more of them.
At the beginning of the next school year, Project Backpack was born. We gave backpacks—filled with pencils, notepads and other important tools —to all 23,000 Detroit Public School students in grades K-5 in each of the city’s 65 elementary schools.
The feedback was immediate. I heard from teachers and parents that their kids were much better prepared and ready to go on the first day of school, and they grew to be better students in the weeks and months that followed.
A backpack for every young student
By 2017, we expanded the program to middle schools and gave out 33,000 supply-filled backpacks to every Detroit public school student in grades K-8. We also were able to extend the program to all Flint elementary students. Additionally, we created Teacher Tote bags with supplies that the teachers could use to help implement their programs in the classroom and relieve them of some of the personal expenses they were incurring to keep their classrooms running.
Last year, the Detroit Pistons joined Project Backpack, adding Pistons gear to the backpacks, along with a chance for students to win game tickets and other special Pistons prizes. In the fall of 2018, we partnered with Orchard Children’s Services and I traveled with Pistons mascot Hooper to schools and district offices in Hamtramck, Oak Park, Pontiac, Port Huron and Roseville to deliver 3,000 more free backpacks for elementary school students there.
This year with the help of the wonderful crew at Morse Moving (and no, we’re NOT related! 😊) we are delivering 28,000 backpacks to the Detroit Public Schools Community District on Aug. 26-27 .
I’m also really excited to announce that we are expanding the program this year to students in surrounding communities.
On August 24, the Mike Morse Law Firm is sponsoring the Big Tent Backpack Event, where K-5 students in need from any other district throughout Metro Detroit can come to our parking lot at 24901 Northwestern Highway and receive a free backpack filled with school supplies. This event is designed for area students who haven’t received backpacks in the past. For more information, visit our website.
To date, Project Backpack has filled and distributed more than 130,000 backpacks, helping parents and teachers to reduce their expenses while increasing their children’s prospects for success.
I’m proud to be able to help our kids. They need to know that people in our community care about them and want them to succeed in school—and to win in life.
Interested in helping, too? You can plant a seed in a backpack that will grow to support a more successful student. Contact us to participate in Project Backpack.
Because when you reach into a child’s backpack, what you’ll really find is our future.