Back-to-school shopping season has arrived with students across the country spending their last precious weeks of summer picking out new backpacks and three-ring binders. Yet the 15 million kids living in poverty in the United States spend these weeks knowing they will arrive on the first day of school this fall without the supplies they need to learn.

When students and families cannot provide their own materials, it places an incredible burden and strain on the classroom.

How will teachers ensure these students can participate fully? How will they guarantee equity?

If preparation is the key to success, having critical classroom tools can make the all the difference.

Educators are increasingly expected to provide supplementary and even foundational supplies out of their own pockets – and student success depends on it.

According to a recent annual impact report from the more than 200,000 educators who received supplies from the Kids In Need Foundation (KINF) in 2017, a national nonprofit dedicated to providing free school supplies to students most in need, teachers spent an additional $500 per year on supplies for their students, in addition to the support they received from KINF.

“When the children come to school, it's bad enough that some of them have limited food and clothing at home and don't know where their next meal is coming from,” said a teacher from Valdosta, Georgia. “The struggle is real.”

Of the teachers surveyed in KINF’s annual impact report, 76 percent said student self-esteem improved when students had the school supplies they needed.

If preparation is the key to success, having critical classroom tools can make the all the difference. Something as simple as a pencil and paper can give students the hands-on learning they need for success in the classroom and in life.