TEP is helping to equip students and teachers with the supplies they need wherever their school year starts – at home, or on campus.

As part of our philanthropic focus on education, we’re handing out free backpacks at drive-through events and providing gift cards for teacher supplies as part of a longstanding partnership with Tucson Values Teachers (TVT).

“This is going to be a challenging school year like no other,” said Jennifer Cox, TEP Education Outreach Representative. “Education is of utmost importance in our community, so we’re pleased that we can provide these supplies and grants to help teachers and students get off to a good start.

This month, many local schools are beginning the academic year with remote, online instruction with plans to offer on-campus education options at a later date.

To help children get ready to learn, TEP is supporting the Pima County Sheriff’s Department’s Badges and Backpacks events where a total of 2,000 stuffed backpacks with school supplies are going to local students. TEP is providing financial support and rallying employee volunteers to support the events.

The Sheriff’s department is hosting four events at high school parking lots where families can drive up to retrieve backpacks; those taking public transportation can walk through. Traditionally, Badges and Backpacks is held on a single day at the Tucson Convention Center, but the format was changed because of the coronavirus pandemic risks.

The final two events are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8 at Cienega High School and Sunday, Aug. 9 at Rincon/University High School.

While uniformed deputies will hand out backpacks, TEP volunteers are helping to unbox and set out the backpacks. In advance of the events, TEP volunteers helped fill backpacks with pencils, folders and other items.

TEP is also helping teachers buy school supplies. Over the last two years, TEP has donated $125,000 to help TVT purchase gift cards for teachers.

Through Sept. 30, teachers in pre-kindergarten through high school can apply for gift cards to Amazon or Jonathan’s Educational Resources for educational items through the Tucson Supplies Teachers program.

TVT is a partnership of business leaders, educators and individuals with a shared mission to help schools and districts attract, retain and support the very best teachers for every K-12 school in Southern Arizona. See a previous story about TEP’s Tucson Values Teachers support.

“We ask a lot of our teachers, and now we’re asking them to really reshape their entire approach to instruction while keeping our children safe,” Cox said. “These gift cards are one small way of thanking them for the incredible work they do, day in and day out.”

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