By Southwester Staff

 Volunteers organize and pack supplies before last year’s Back to School Bash; Courtesy of Serve Your City/Ward 6 Mutual Aid

Serve Your City/Ward 6 Mutual Aid (SYC/W6MA) kicked off its second annual Back to School Bash fundraiser (https://www.serveyourcitydc.org/b2sb) in July aimed at providing critical support like digital devices, school supplies, and other enrichment programming to Black and Brown students in the District.

Students and families faced immense challenges during the 2020-21 school year: 

  • A gaping digital divide cutting the most vulnerable off from virtual learning 
  • underinvestments in critical school resources and aging infrastructure
  • and, a lack of access to the kind of supports needed for a successful school year. 

Maurice Cook, executive director of Serve Your City and lead organizer with Ward 6 Mutual Aid, said the problems are “new” but the “result of years of structural and systemic injustice in the District.” He also pointed out that the pandemic had a greater negative impact on Black and Brown students and families. “As our communities transition back to in-person life, these inequities will persist unless we step up together to address them. There is enough love in this city to take care of everyone here. Our work is to capture that love and make sure it gets to the youth and families who need it most.”

Building off the success of last year’s inaugural Back to School Bash, which reached more than 425 students and families, SYC/W6MA  hopes to reach and support even more students this year through the backpack drive and other programming. And unlike last year, there will be an in-person event for students and families at the end of August to receive backpacks and learn more about virtual tutoring, extracurricular classes, and enrichment programming like horseback riding, rowing, music and art lessons, and trapeze classes. This year’s fundraiser will run through Sept. 10, 2021.

The backpacks, according to Back to School Bash organizer Pranav Nanda, are “comprehensive” and give Black and Brown students “access to the same supplies that their White counterparts will receive.“ Nanda hopes the supplies will help these students “excel in school” and not have to worry about some of the basics.”This year will be a major transition for our kids, and they need our support more than ever.”

Each backpack will contain a digital device for distance learning, headphones, a full range of writing utensils and a pencil sharpener, a calculator, notebooks, masks and other sanitary items, activity books, fidget spinners, and a lot more. 

“I have heard from many parents and students over the past year how crucial our support has been during the pandemic,” said Miranda Mlilo, SYC/W6MA’s tutoring and extracurricular education coordinator. “Our program is shaped to be a direct reflection of what our community is asking for. We are grateful to be able to continue to work with families to make sure their kids are excited about their futures and what they are capable of, by providing opportunities and resources that are long term, sustainable and empowering.”

 To get involved with the Back to School Bash, you can:

  • Donate to our fundraising campaign (https://crm.bloomerang.co/HostedDonation?ApiKey=pub_a4ec09ae-a73e-11ea-9d7f-0ab70f91e480&WidgetId=11301888)
  • Join us as an official sponsor 
  • Volunteer to help with the Back to School Bash by emailing b2sb@serveyourcitydc.org 

Find out more at serveyourcitydc.org/b2sb.

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