Kid reading

Throughout Chicago, students, teachers, and staff are shopping for supplies and transitioning out of summer-break mode as they prep for the start of the new school year on Aug. 22. 

As the nation’s third-largest district, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is home to more than 330,000 students across more than 500 schools. But many schools are lacking the sufficient resources that students need to meet their potential.

City budget jams have led to CPS staffing cuts, with librarians often the first to go. A recent Chicago Sun-Times article revealed some staggering stats: More than 400 CPS schools are without a librarian – including 82 percent at elementary level. Some schools don’t even have a library at all. 

With many CPS students already struggling to keep up with national reading levels, a dearth of librarians and libraries is a big obstacle for the vital development of children’s literacy and technology skills. But in the face of fading libraries in Chicago, there are other ways you can help keep students reading, their curiosity peaked, and their minds engaged.

We’ve compiled a list of literacy and school supplies resources to support CPS students and teachers for the back-to-school season:

Chicago Sun-Times Book Buddies

This reading program matches donors with a CPS student, and the student then sends a letter about themselves along with their book wish list. You can then donate books to the student, costing $15 to $20.


DonorsChoose is a unique program, allowing people to pick classrooms to donate to based on their specific needs. You can filter results by location, supplies, and even “Teachers Celebrating a Birthday Today.’”

Select “Books” under Supplies and set the location to Chicago to support literacy in CPS classrooms.

Donate Supplies to CPS Schools

A CPS school supply drive is taking place through Aug. 19 at four drop-off locations on the city’s North Side. The most-needed supplies are broken down by age groups, with backpacks most encouraged. 

Children First Fund

You can contribute to an array of back-to-school initiatives, ranging from hygiene closets to positive relationship-building, through the Children First Fund supporting CPS.

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