SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee and various members of the community distributed more than 5,500 backpacks and school supplies to local youth in the Sunnydale community. The distribution of the school supplies is part of Mayor Lee’s annual Backpack Giveaway program.

For the past 11 years, the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services has teamed up with various city agencies, community based organizations and local businesses to distribute backpacks to local students. Each backpack comes equipped with school supplies and information on local resources that will help prepare students for the school year.

“Our Backpack Giveaway allows our children to focus on what really matters—their studies,” said Mayor Lee. “We know there are challenges to raising children in San Francisco, and this program is one way we are helping to ease the financial burden for our families.”

According to a press release from the Mayor’s Office, the Mayor’s Backpack Giveaway is a way of providing assistance to local students in need of financial support Sunnydale is San Francisco’s largest public housing project and is slated to be rebuilt as part of HOPE SF. Mercy Housing, a nonprofit housing organization, will develop and operate the property, and is partnering with residents and community in back-to-school activities.

“As part of Mercy Housing’s commitment to providing the services families and communities need to truly thrive, we are honored to be part of the Mayor’s Backpack Giveaway for the sixth year,” said Tangerine Brigham, Board Chair of Mercy Housing California. “This coming school year is going to be an exciting one, for the youth who will expand their horizons and build new friendships, and for the Sunnydale community, which will celebrate the groundbreaking on 55 new affordable homes in early 2018.”

“Supporting our families in getting a strong start back-to-school shows that San Francisco is delivering on our promise to ensure all of our residents, especially our low-income families, share in the prosperity and opportunity of our City,” said Theo Miller, HOPE SF Director. “These communities are our communities, our San Francisco.”

During the course of the Mayor’s Backpack Giveaway program, more than 21,000 backpacks have been distributed to children. As part of the Backpack Giveaway, the City partners with nonprofit organizations such as the Family Restoration House, Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco, Mission Economic Development Association and Collective Impact, among others. Mayor Lee distributed backpacks to children at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center on August 10.

“Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center and BRIDGE Housing Corporation take pride in developing affordable housing that provides individuals and families with a decent and healthy place to live,” said Gina Dacus, Executive Director of the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center. “However, we realize that housing alone is not enough. Community building activities, such as this backpack giveaway, which provides books and supply-filled backpacks to low-income residents, are critical in helping children and their families gain the necessary tools for success.”

Corporate sponsors of the Mayor’s Backpack Giveaway include the Golden State Warriors, LinkedIn, Recology, and Comcast.

“This program, which addresses a pressing need in our community, aligns with the Warriors Foundation’s core mission of supporting education and youth development,” said Joanne Pasternack, Golden State Warriors Vice President of Community Relations and Executive Director of the Warriors Community Foundation. “For children, a new backpack is a symbol of optimism for the year ahead. We look forward to seeing the hundreds of Warriors-themed backpacks we are providing in support of Mayor Lee’s program in schools all around San Francisco as the children embark on another year of learning.”

“SupplyBank.Org’s K to College program works with charitable back-school efforts across the state ensure all students have the materials they need to succeed and learn in the classroom,” said Executive Director Benito Delgado-Olson. “Under the leadership of the Mayor and his dynamic team, San Francisco has consistently been the farthest reaching effort, serving more than 65,000 students in the last five years.”

In March 2017, Mayor Lee hosted his annual Youth Jobs+ initiative, which challenges employers of both large and small companies to create jobs, internships and paid job training for San Francisco residents. This year’s event gave more than 6,100 pledged jobs for young residents, and during its 6 years of existence, more than 35,000 youth have been connected with employers.

Earlier this year, Mayor Lee helped lead a $5.4 million plan to provide free tuition at the City College of San Francisco for all California residents. The funding will not only provide free tuition, but will include a $500 grant for low-income students to use on books, transportation, supplies and health fees. There will be a $200 grant for low-income residents who are part-time students at the college as well. It is the first plan of its kind in the nation. Free City College will take effect the fall semester.