Backpack Coalition


Backpack Coalition



Backpack Coalition, which has been led by United Way since 2014, is committed to providing backpacks and school supplies to students with financial constraints, helping ensure they succeed in school. Each year the coalition distributes thousands of backpacks with grade appropriate school supplies to students in grades K-12. 

The success of the Backpack Coalition is due to many caring volunteers, group supply drives, and our annual Fill the Bus event. In 2020, our strategy will look different to follow CDC guidelines but backpacks and school supplies are still needed. We know many local students rely on these backpacks so this year we are asking for a financial donation.

As we continue to adapt to the needs of students when navigating education during a pandemic, we are thankful for our partners CH Coakley. In order to support the needs of this initiative, they have volunteered their time and resources to distribute all backpacks to students across our Milwaukee and Waukesha county communities.



2020 Impact

Students went back to school in all different ways. Thank you to all of our donors, sponsors, school coordinators, coalition members, and volunteer note writers who helped get essential school supplies support into the hands of students this year.

In 2020, over 5,400 students were served through the Backpack Coalition efforts at more than 23 schools and organizations.

Numbers indicate how many students were served through Backpack Coalition annually.



Goal: $75,000

We've exceeded our initial goal of $65,000! You have ensured students' are equipped with supplies through the end of fall semester.

Our updated goal will fund supplies & backpack all the way through the end of the school year!

Your donations have removed one barrier in getting an education, no student should have to worry about. We have met the basic needs for the fall semester. In order to continue support students for the entire school year, we are going to increase our fundraising goal in order to meet the evolving needs for students who will continue to go to school through the spring semester. 


This year the world of education took on a whole new look. Schools everywhere closed their doors, and kitchens in every neighborhood quickly became classrooms. Teachers and students discovered new ways to learn. Through all of the changes, one thing remained the same: the need for student school supplies was greater than ever.

As we hit milestones toward our goal of $75,000, we will color in the image above to show our progress. Donate by clicking the button below!



Or to donate via check, mail to:

United Way Pledge Processing
PO Box 88988
Milwaukee, WI 53288-8988

Enclosed payable to: United Way Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County
Important: Please add to your check memo line, "Backpack Coalition Restricted Fund"

Need a Backpack?

Our Fall 2020 application for backpacks is now closed. We understand financial situations are fluid and ever-changing especially during this challenging year. If you find you and your family are in need of assistance with school supplies during the 2020-2021 school year, please see below for ways to access resources.

If your student attends one of our Milwaukee Community Partnership Schools, please contact your guidance counselor at your respective school.

Waukesha County

If your student is within the School District of Waukesha, please contact your guidance counselor at your respective school.

For all other requests, please contact the free IMPACT 2-1-1 service (1.866.211.3380).

Show Your Support

Coloring Pages for the Family

Show your family's support of education by downloading these coloring pages and having your kids color them! Post your finished artwork with the hashtag #HelpUsFillTheBus on social media and we'll feature you on our page. You can also send it to us via email to be featured.



Click on the icon to download the full coloring page!

Thank You to our 2020 Partners


Donated dollar and/or in-kind donations of $1,000 and above


Coalition Members

Aurora Health Care, Child & Family Centers of Excellence, Food Pantry of Waukesha County, Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast, Milwaukee Area Labor Council AFL-CIO, Mukwonago Food Pantry, Muskego Food Pantry, Oconomowoc Food Pantry, Pewaukee Food Pantry, School District of Waukesha, The Waukesha Salvation Army, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, Waukesha County Health and Human Services, Waukesha County UW-Extension

Contact Lori Hayes at 414.837.3639 or email.

© 2021 United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County is a 501(C)(3) Nonprofit registered in the US under EIN: 39-0806190.