Kawhi Leonard, the L.A. Clippers Foundation and non-profit community partner Baby2Baby, announced this morning a gift of one million backpacks intended to reduce stress on low-income families headed back to school across Southern California. Every single student in the Moreno Valley Unified, Inglewood Unified and Los Angeles Unified School Districts will receive a new backpack to start the school year. Leonard made the announcement at Cloverdale Elementary School in his hometown of Moreno Valley, and was joined afterwards by Baby2Baby Ambassadors Zooey Deschanel, Busy Philipps and Nicole Richie and Co-Presidents Kelly Sawyer Patricof and Norah Weinstein at 107th Street Elementary School in Watts to distribute backpacks in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
“My goal this year is to make a meaningful contribution both on and off the court. This felt like the right way to get started. It was important to me to make this announcement in my hometown of Moreno Valley at my former Elementary School, but the benefits this program will have across all of Los Angeles makes today even more special,” said Leonard.
In LAUSD alone, last year 80% of K-12 students were eligible for free or reduced lunch, meaning they come from a low-income family, are homeless, or are in the foster program. This gift is the largest in LAUSD history impacting every single student. It will allow hundreds of thousands of families to take the money they would spend on a backpack and use it instead on essential items like food, rent, utilities and more, which can make a major difference in a family’s livelihood. Today is the first day of school for more than 600,000 LAUSD students.
“We are overwhelmed with gratitude to the Clippers and Kawhi Leonard for this record-breaking donation to every student in Los Angeles Unified School District and beyond. Baby2Baby serves hundreds of thousands of children in poverty in Los Angeles, and backpacks are consistently one of the most highly-requested items for the school-aged children in our program,” said Sawyer Patricof and Weinstein. “For many of these children who are homeless or in foster care, backpacks not only hold their school books and homework, but also all of their personal belongings. If they have a backpack at all, it is often falling apart, and when a child does not have one, they resort to using a grocery or trash bag. The Clippers' donation will make these children feel the pride they deserve and give them the confidence they need to start the school year off on the right foot.”
“There are a lot of families throughout the L.A. region working hard every day to earn everything in their lives. This program is our effort to extend a hand to make heading back to school a little easier,” said Gillian Zucker, President of Business Operations, L.A. Clippers. “Our deepest appreciation goes out to Kawhi Leonard and Baby2Baby’s incredible network of ambassadors who walk the walk when it comes to using their platforms and voices to provide real solutions to impact the everyday lives of the people around us.”