Great Lakes employees donate school supplies to Northside schools

A team of Great Lakes volunteers helped Principal Jackie Smith and Principal Kenya Walker unload school supplies Aug. 23. Photo by Stephanie Hayden

By Kyle Florence
Great Lakes Higher Education Corp.

Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates recently held its annual Fall School Supplies Drive to benefit the students of Gompers Elementary School and Black Hawk Middle School. Both schools were “adopted” by Great Lakes as part of the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools’ Adopt-a-School program.

In August, employees came together to collect supplies like pens, pencils and glue sticks so students could start the school year fully prepared and ready to learn. In all, Great Lakes staff members collected over 11,000 new school supplies.

According to Stephanie Hayden, Employee Giving Manager at Great Lakes, the start of the school year can be a difficult time for many families, which is why Great Lakes’ continued support is so important. “Many of the children at our adopted schools come from low-income households who struggle to make ends meet,” said Hayden. “These families often have little left over for things like school supplies, so we step in to make sure every student has the tools they need to hit the ground running.”

Hayden was also quick to note the long-term impact of the drive. “Studies show that kids who are equipped for school get higher grades, miss less school and behave better during class, so these supplies really make a big difference. We’re not only giving students the tools they need to be successful, we’re putting them on a path toward a promising future.”

Jackie Smith, principal of Gompers Elementary, agreed with Hayden’s assessment. “Children who don’t have what they need on the first day of class start the school year with additional worry, which means they’re more likely to fall behind and struggle academically. These supplies will help our students start the year strong, allowing them to focus on learning from day one.”

“To avoid embarrassing students who couldn’t afford school supplies, we made a point to stock their desks ahead of time,” added Smith. “When they peeked inside on the first day of school, they were absolutely thrilled — couldn’t stop smiling.”

To date, Great Lakes employees have donated over 30,000 supplies to Gompers and Black Hawk. “Being new to Gompers, I was pretty blown away by the generosity of the Great Lakes staff. It’s incredible how many individuals in the community care about the well-being of our students and want to see them succeed. We’re very grateful for their support,” said Smith.

This drive is one of several sponsored by Great Lakes in support of their adopted Northside schools. For more information, visit