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, 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. 

Since March of 2020, COVID-19 has impacted the lives of so many in our community. It has been especially challenging for those in the world of education. Over the past several months, we have seen how adaptable and resilient teachers, students, and families can be. In the fall of 2020, United Way was able to provide more than 5,000 essential school supply kits to local students because of the contributions of our community members.

While our world continues with some uncertainty, there is one thing we know for sure: the need for student school supplies is greater than ever. We are once again asking for and prioritizing financial donations for the current season and look forward to offering our extensive supply drive options and in-person kit-packing efforts in 2022.




Goal: $75,000


Last 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. 

This year we have a new normal and a return to in-person learning. Teachers and students will have to work harder than ever to catch up from the learning gaps from the previous year. Your donation will provide essential learning supplies to local students and help remove an obstacle in their journey to educational success.

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
225 West Vine Street
Milwaukee, WI 53212

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

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 Whittier 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 10, 2021: 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 all other requests, please contact the free IMPACT 211 service (1.866.211.3380).

Write Notes of Encouragement

Help students and teachers start the new school year on a good “note.”
Submit a message of support, encouragement or inspiration to be shared with Backpack Coalition-supported students and teachers.

Write a Note to Teachers    Write a Note to Students

Host a Supply Drive

** Our supply drive season has ended. We are still accepting financial donations.**

Thank You to our 2021 Partners

HSA Bank logo Johnson Controls logo

     Waukesha State Bank logo            

Donated dollar and/or in-kind donations of $500 and above


Impact History

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, 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.