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Giveaways of back-to-school supplies set for Tucson kids

Loni Nannini
November 28, 2023

Back-to-school is a time-honored tradition, and whether you have kids returning to the classroom or not, you can relive the excitement by supporting local nonprofits in a quest to make the coming school year successful for children and families in need.

That success is facilitated by SVP Tucson’s 2Gen Collaboration, which will stage its Third Families Coming Together event at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 1, at YWCA Southern Arizona, 525 N. Bonita Ave.

“Families Coming Together is a series of social capital events intended to bring families together in a shared space to learn about the resources within our 2Gen Collaboration of eight nonprofits that serve multiple generations in a number of different areas. We are building spaces where families can come together in a safe, comfortable, fun atmosphere and learn from one another — families helping families,” said Jennie Grabel, vice president of programs at SVP Tucson.

SVP Tucson is a nonprofit network dedicated to connecting philanthropists and strengthening nonprofits. The 2Gen initiative resulted from a series of community “listening sessions” designed to address challenges faced by low-income families in education, workforce development, mental and physical health, and the ability to attain assets.

The collaboration harnesses support through eight local nonprofits: Make Way for Books, Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, Boys to Men, Job Path, Interfaith Community Services, YWCA of Southern Arizona, Parent Aid and Tucson Jewish Free Loan.

“Two-generation approaches are not new. This is indigenous wisdom from years and years of deep understanding that we are all interconnected, not only as humans, but as family units,” said Grabel.

She emphasized that supporting individuals doesn’t result in the same gains as supporting each element of the family, “whatever that family looks like.” The approach reflects recognition of the importance of family systems to overall well-being.

“Ultimately, we want the whole family system to thrive,” said Grabel.

A guiding principle within the collaboration is to build cohesive, family-centered, cross-generational referrals through participating nonprofits.

“If a parent is in school through Job Path, we encourage them to sign up for educational support for their little ones through Make Way for Books. We are working to ask families to provide feedback so we can determine which resources to bring in next,” said Grabel.

The newest partners — Parent Aid, YWCA of Southern Arizona and Tucson Jewish Free Loans — bring unique strengths to the collaboration, according to Grabel.

She said the interest-free loans offered by Tucson Jewish Free Loans can help protect low-income families from predatory lending practices while parenting classes and other resources offered by Parent Aid and YWCA of Southern Arizona provide additional assistance to move families out of poverty.

The integration of resources leverages collective strengths, according to Magdalena Verdugo, CEO of YWCA of Southern Arizona.

“This collaboration brings families together in one place and gives them the opportunity to learn about other organizations and the resources that each particular organization brings to the table. As a network of nonprofits, we can really hone in on each agency’s expertise and do a ‘soft hand off’ so there is a smooth transition for our families to get the support they need,” said Verdugo.

She emphasized that the mission of the YWCA is to eliminate racism and empower women by promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

“It is about equity and accessibility and making families aware of mechanisms they can put in place so they can define their success. I say ‘define success’ because success doesn’t look the same for everyone and we need to honor that. We empower women to learn about what their success may look like and to make the choices that are best for them and their families,” said Verdugo.

Promoting awareness about the collaboration is also key, and Grabel said events such as the upcoming Families Coming Together event fulfill that goal.

“It is fun to do something back-to-school oriented,” Grabel said. “We know how stressful it can be not only to get children to and from school, but with all that is required to ensure they have the backpacks and supplies they need. Hopefully this can help take a small burden off of parents. We know that when we lighten the load for parents, it lightens the load for kiddos.”

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