Backpack Coalition
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United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

two girls with backpacks in front of a school bus

Backpack Coalition

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Backpack Coalition has been serving our community for over 20 years and has been led by United Way since 2014. It is committed to providing backpacks and school supplies to students with financial constraints and 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.  

Thank you to our community for their past support of the Backpack Coalition. In 2022, we distributed 7,661 brand new backpacks filled with school supplies to children across our community, from students in Milwaukee Community Schools to those living and learning in Waukesha and Washington Counties. 

Here are just a few of the ways each donation altogether made a difference: 

  • We ensured a child started the school year with the supplies they needed to succeed. With the right school supplies, a child's capacity to learn can be greatly enhanced. 
  • We helped a child feel proud to have their own school supplies. The average cost of school supplies hovers around $75 and not every family can afford this cost. 
  • We reduced the amount of money teachers spend from their own pockets to provide school supplies for their students. 
  • We helped families redirect their limited budgets to other important needs: rent, food, bills, school clothes, and more. 

As the 2023-24 school year approaches, we are proud to once again ensure thousands of local students start the year off right. With rising costs and more students to serve the need is greater than it has ever been.  We hope you'll join us this year in supporting the Backpack Coalition.   




2023 Goal: 8,000 Backpack with Supplies Distributed


Make a financial donation.

When you donate your dollars to Backpack Coalition, we can purchase backpacks and school supplies at bulk rates. This means we can offer support to even more students.



Or to donate via check, mail to:

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

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

Run a Backpack Supply Collection Drive

Hosting a supply drive is fun, plus we help make it easy.

Download the Backpack Coalition Drive Toolkit that includes a flyer, progress sheet, and more.

Contact Lori Hayes at 414.837.3639 or email to learn more about running a backpack supply collection drive.



Volunteer to Pack Backpacks

Stay tuned for more information on how you, your company, or your group can get involved in Backpack Coalition volunteer opportunities. 

Need a Backpack?

The Backpack Coalition provides school supplies for students in:

  • Milwaukee County for students attending one of our Milwaukee Community Partnership Schools, please contact your guidance counselor at your respective school.
  • Waukesha County for students attending Hadfield, Hawthorne and Heyer Elementary schools, please contact your guidance counselor at your respective school.  Families who utilize the following agencies may also apply for assistance by signing up for supplies from April 15 – June 15, 2023: Waukesha County Health and Human Services, Food Panty of Waukesha County, Mukwonago Food Pantry, Muskego Food Pantry, Oconomowoc Food Pantry, Pewaukee Food Pantry, & Waukesha Salvation Army. 
  • For students in the Germantown School District, please contact Sara Wong, School Social Worker at 262.253.3459 or at

For all other requests, please contact the free IMPACT 211 service (1.866.211.3380).

Thank You to our 2022 Partners

These organiziations supported Backpack Coalition with either a $500+ in-kind or financial donation.

Batteries Plus 
Briohn Building Corp 
Charter Manufacturing 
Circa InfoSoft Group 
Clifton Larson 
Elmbrook Schools 
Extension, Inc 

Employers Mutual Casualty 
First Congregational Church of Hartland 
HSA Bank 
IBEW Local 494 AFL-CIO 
Johnson Controls 
Jones Logistics 
Kolaga Family

Landmark Credit Union 
Markel American Insurance Co. 
M3 Insurance 
ProHealth Care 
Quest CE 
Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren 
Two Men and a Truck 

We Energies 
Weyco Group 
Winter Services 
Zimmerman Architectural Studios, Inc. 
Zurn Elkay 

Impact History

graph of number of backpacks distributed in past years

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

Coalition Members

Aurora Health Care, Child & Family Centers of Excellence, Food Pantry of Waukesha County, Germantown School District, Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast, Milwaukee Area Labor Council AFL-CIO, Mukwonago Area School District, 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.