Providence gives back to help prepare students and families for the new school year

Across the full Providence footprint, our Community Health Investment teams are steadfast in serving the most vulnerable members of our communities through strategic and impactful investments that are data driven, effective, and focused on addressing disparities. With school starting up for students across the country, these teams have jumped into gear to increase access to ‘back-to-school’ essentials like school supplies and to provide families information on the resources that could be available to them.  

Eastern Washington

In late August, Providence caregivers in the greater Spokane, Wash. area came together to host school supply drives to support the students in their local district. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 55% of students attending Spokane Public Schools qualified for free and reduced lunch, which can be a key indicator of families facing financial strain. It is believed this number has grown as more families find themselves struggling due to inflation and other challenges. This means that the need is greater than ever for support as the new school year begins. Because of this, motivated caregivers brought in pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, baby wipes, and more to ensure that each student at these schools has the supplies they need to be successful this year.

Caregivers from Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Providence St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Medical Center, Providence Holy Family Hospital and Providence Medical Park collected donations for Lidgerwood Elementary School, Grant Elementary School, and Greenacres Middle School. Thanks to the generosity of these teams, many Spokane-area families will have one less thing to worry about as the school year starts.

Northern California

Throughout Northern California, Community Health teams partnered in different ways to support their local schools and prepare families for the new school year.

At Loleta Union Elementary School in Loleta, Calif., Providence Humboldt operates the Loleta Community Resource Center (CRC), which offers local families access to classes, support groups, and many other critical resources. Nearly all the students at this school come from socioeconomically disadvantaged households, meaning they may be struggling with housing instability or food insecurity, they could be in foster care, or they could be facing other significant challenges. In preparation for school starting, the CRC, which Providence Community Health Investment funds, hosted events throughout July and August to ease the way of families by handing out backpacks, school supplies, free books, and well-being items during the schools’ enrollment days. Other community partners were in attendance, bringing valuable information about water safety, CalFresh, MediCal, employment opportunities, healthy eating, and more.  While parents completed paperwork, the children played games and enjoyed delicious snacks. Thanks to the numerous volunteers and dedicated partners, the events were a rousing success!

Also, the St. Joseph Mobile Dental Clinic participated in a local back-to-school event for underserved youth in Sonoma County. They provided dental screenings for 45 patients that otherwise did not have access to care. Over the course of the day, the dental clinic team encountered individuals in need of significant dental treatment, beyond what they can offer through the mobile clinic. Fortunately, Providence providers can also see patients at the St. Joseph Dental Clinic in Southwest Santa Rosa, Calif., which serves low-income and uninsured/under-insured children, patients with special needs, and pregnant women, and can make referrals to partner clinics, including dental surgical centers, to ensure patients receive all the care they need.

Likewise, Providence Queen of the Valley Medical Center offers the Children’s Mobile Dental Clinic, which provides full service dental care to low-income Napa County children and young adults up to age 26 plus oral health education for their families. The Mobile Dental Clinic visits all six local Head Start pre-school sites to provide the dental screenings that are required for children to start kindergarten. Providence caregivers screen approximately 300 children each year and if there is a need for further treatment or if the child needs a dentist to see for regular visits, the Mobile Dental Clinic team will schedule them for a follow up appointment or make the necessary referrals to ensure the child receives the care they need. To increase access to dental care for other children, the mobile clinic regularly travels to other sites throughout Napa County that are convenient to families in addition to having a standard location and schedule at Queen of the Valley Medical Center.

Since physicals are required for many students who plan to join a school sports team, the Providence Mobile Health Clinic was onsite for back-to-school events in the greater Sonoma County area as well. In the hustle and bustle of preparing children for a new school year, sports physicals are an easy thing to forget about, but they can be crucial in detecting some conditions that could be dangerous or even fatal if unaddressed. This summer, the Mobile Health Clinic team has already performed 16 physicals, with plans to partner with Roseland City Schools to provide even more in September and October to ensure these students are ready to participate in sports this year.

Southern California

In Southern California, the Community Health Investment team hosted and joined several back-to-school events to prepare families in their community for the new school year.

Providence Community Health South Bay’s outreach teams were out in full force throughout Los Angeles County, participating in two back-to-school/ health resource events in mid-August. At Banning High School in Wilmington, Calif., Providence sponsored a major event with LA Care and Blue Shield. Over 3,700 individuals stopped by and nearly 3,000 backpacks were distributed, each containing information on the Community Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Welcome Baby, and the Wilmington Wellness and Activity Center. The outreach team also handed out an additional 300 backpacks at the Toberman Neighborhood Center in San Pedro, Calif.

The Community Health team from Saint John’s Health Center held a supply drive in July and August to encourage donations of back-to-school essentials for children served by the Child and Family Development Center, which provides empathetic care to underprivileged families, adolescents, and children in the Los Angeles area. They collected enough supplies to assist over 100 children! In addition, the team distributed 200 more backpacks at another back-to-school event within partnership with the Cardiothoracic Outpatient Clinic.

In the San Fernando Valley area, Providence joined the Child Development Institute’s annual “Back to School Health and Safety Fair” and provided both a COVID vaccination clinic and a resource booth. Caregivers were able to provide 19 people with booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and connect 15 individuals to resources and programs available through the Community Health team.

The Boys and Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley also hosted a back-to-school event recently and Providence provided a healthy eating booth and resource table to share tips on creating nutritious, well-balanced meals. Our caregivers encountered over 250 people at this event and distributed reading materials from the USDA geared towards children and other resources from the Community Health team for adults.

At Comprehensive Community Health Center's “Multicultural Health Fair and Children’s Appreciation Day,” Providence Community Health caregivers were on site to increase awareness of Cal-Fresh and Medi-Cal. During this event, they were able to help 22 individuals/ families complete the necessary paperwork to apply for these essential services.

The Community Health Investment team at Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, Calif. recently hosted their annual ‘Back-to-School Angel’ program in support of students living in poverty in South Orange County. Though this may not be an area of the country that’s typically associated with resource scarcity, nearly 20% of Orange County residents are living in poverty, and this includes many families with children. Thanks to the kindness of caregivers from 55 different departments across the hospital, we were able to provide school clothing and supplies to 192 students and members of the Mission Hospital trauma team volunteered their time to distribute the donations. For 15 years, caregivers at this hospital have come together to make a difference for students in their area and this is just one way they live their commitment to serving the poor and vulnerable members of our communities.


Earlier in the summer, Covenant Health hosted its first Health for a Better Lubbock Community Health Fair in partnership with YWCA. This event offered something for the whole family, including a bounce house for children and educational booths with valuable information for parents and other adults about healthy living, dental health, mental health, stroke education, car seat safety, and more. YWCA shared information about their upcoming summer camps and programs and the South Plains Food Bank had applications on hand for their summer feeding program.

At the Primary Care Northwest Clinic, also in Lubbock, Texas, Covenant held a family-friendly Back-to-School Bash in early August as a one stop shop for children’s health, safety, and other student needs. They offered state-required vaccinations as well as sports physicals. To celebrate the end of summer, there were emergency vehicles available for tours and demonstrations, food trucks, an obstacle course, safety exercises, face painters, and more! Covenant encouraged community participants to bring food donations in support of the South Plains Food Bank, which serves about 57,000 individuals each year.

Nearby at the South Plains Mall, Covenant also held a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine clinic, offering a free, convenient option for initial vaccinations as well as boosters geared towards families that were out completing their back-to-school shopping.

The Community Health Investment team’s commitment to serve

Providence’s Community Health Investment team is committed to improving community health through purposeful economic investments and partnerships across all seven states we serve. We are called by our Mission and driven by our belief that health is a human right. This core purpose guides the intentional way we approach our community health investment strategies and how we continue to address the health and wellbeing of our communities.

Learn more

To learn more about how Providence is investing in your community, please visit our Annual Report to our Communities.

About the Author

Community Partnerships is a division that aligns the influence of Providence to create stronger communities, raise awareness, and illuminate a pathway that inspires all to serve. Through partnerships, we work to improve the health of our nation and achieve our goal of Health for a Better World.

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