Thousands of low-income students went back to school this year prepared and confident, thanks to support and contributions from Kaiser Permanente Northern California. Employees and physicians joined regional offices and local service areas in activities that included school supply drives, shoe giveaway events, and health screenings.
“Access to healthy food, fresh water, and exercise on campus is big part of it—but so are some of the basics that can be challenging for low-income families to provide their children. Being able to start school with a new pair of shoes and a backpack full of supplies can go a long way in helping kids get excited about the new school year.”
Employees and physicians across Northern California donated a wide range of school supplies. The collective contributions of employees and physicians in just the Santa Rosa and Santa Clara service areas resulted in nearly $25,000 worth of pens, pencils, notebooks, rulers, lunch bags, and more.
Providing Hope and Opportunity
In Marin County, KP San Rafael gathered school supplies for children whose families can’t afford to buy them the basics. Marin County Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke and Marin County Board of Education President Clairette C. Wilson named KP an Exemplary Partner in Education for its contribution and said KP’s donations provide students “hope and the opportunity to achieve success in school.”
KP San Rafael Operations Manager Amy Mahoney has organized the drive for 7 years, and said she does it because it’s the right thing to do.
“It allows these kids to have confidence and a level playing field when they walk in the classrooms at the start of the year.”
Keeping Students Healthy and in School
In Berkeley, 100 KP Bay Area volunteers assembled thousands of school supply and dental kits complete with toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss. The volunteers worked with K to College, an Oakland-based nonprofit organization that’s focused on giving low-income students equal access to the resources they need to succeed in school.
According to the K to College website more than 500,000 students nationwide miss school one or more days each year due to poor oral health. This problem disproportionately affects children from lower-income families who are 20 percent more likely than higher-income students to show high rates of tooth decay.
Northern California Community Relations Specialist Amanda Medina, who coordinated four back-to-school activities for the regional offices, said every dollar invested in preventive oral health care results in $50 in treatment savings down the road.
“By giving their time to support this effort, our volunteers help keep kids in school as well as saving their families thousands of dollars.”
A Chance to Play Football More Safely
Back to school also means fall sports, including football. In Sacramento, South Sacramento, and Roseville, more than 800 high-school football players will now be able to play more safely, thanks in part to a $16,000 Community Benefit grant to MindGame, a nonprofit organization started by KP Roseville pediatric neuropsychologist Catherine Broomand, PhD. MindGame does baseline neurocognitive testing for football players and concussion education for athletes, parents, and school staff.
Football has the highest concussion rate among sports, and the effects can have life-long consequences. The grant will help MindGame serve low-income areas where students may have limited access to health care resources.
“All kids deserve a chance to be healthy and active,” said Ellen Brown, South Sacramento Community Benefit manager. “It’s a big part of them being able to succeed in school and life.”