As the cost of school supplies has soared during the last decade, United Way and its community and corporate partners are ensuring thousands of Dallas children are equipped and empowered for success on the first day of school.  United Way of Metropolitan Dallas hosted its annual Back to School Festival, presented by Mr. Cooper, at O.W. Holmes Humanities and Communications Academy on Saturday, August 18, distributing 3,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to students in Southern Dallas.

More than 250 volunteers from Mr. Cooper, Celanese Corporation and TXU Energy distributed free, grade-appropriate backpacks filled with required school supplies. The festival also featured carnival-style games and family friendly activities for those attending, while providing valuable community resource information.  The event helped offset costs of back-to-school supply expenses for elementary and middle school students, representing more than nine Franklin D. Roosevelt High School feeder pattern schools in the Dallas Independent School District.

“We’re proud to partner with United Way to get these young students excited and geared up for school, inspiring them toward success in the classroom,” said, Jay Bray, Chairman and CEO of WMIH Corp., the holding company for the Mr. Cooper brand. “We want to help put children on the right path early on, by providing essential supplies to make them feel confident both academically and socially from day one.”

A recent national survey by Deloitte estimates the average back-to-school spend per household is $510.  The latest Huntington Backpack Index shows the cost of school supplies has nearly doubled during the last decade.  Rising costs can create a financial hardship for many families, stretching already strapped resources.

“We know the ballooning costs of back-to-school supplies are pinching many families’ budgets and forcing them to make tough choices,” said Jennifer Sampson, McDermott-Templeton President and CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. “United Way is committed to bridging the opportunity gap so that all North Texas students can graduate and succeed.  Equipped with new school supplies, students can walk into the classroom confident, empowered and prepared from the start.”

In addition to Holmes, students in attendance represented the following schools: Albert Sidney Johnston Elementary School, Harrell Budd Elementary School, J. P. Starks Elementary School, John Neely Bryan Elementary School, N.W. Harllee Early Childhood Center, Roger Q. Mills Elementary School, William Brown Miller Elementary School, and Franklin D. Roosevelt High School.

The effort is part of United Way’s Grow South, Grow Strong initiative in partnership with Celanese, supporting students and families in the city’s southern sector through targeted programs, workshops and events.  The program serves children and families in the Roosevelt High School feeder pattern, engaging the community and corporations to address the area’s biggest challenges and capitalize on its biggest opportunities.