High school students Lana and Susanna founded SupplyHopeInfo in April 2020 in an effort to solve new problems brought on by distanced learning: low-income students no longer had access to school resources. Read on to learn more about their journey and SupplyHopeInfo’s amazing work.
Stories and photos provided by SupplyHopeInfo.
SupplyHopeInfo is a teen-run project based in the Bay Area aimed at helping low-income students overcome challenges that come with distance learning by providing them with the resources they need to achieve academic success. Although they focus primarily on school supplies donations, we have also connected our students with free tutoring and provided families with a list of additional resources. Of course, we could not do this alone.
Through the support of our amazing community, SupplyHopeInfo has been able to raise over $40,000. Many generous individuals have also supported us by donating technology, backpacks, books, office supplies, and bulks of other school supplies. We are incredibly grateful for this as these supplies can change the course of many students’ education. So far, we have been able to support over 2,000 students who come from in need backgrounds. A majority of these students are located within California, but we have also supported communities out of state and in rural China.
ABOUT CO-FOUNDERS LANA AND SUSANNA
As a low-income student, free academic materials and support play a crucial role in my educational journey. Receiving guidance means that I can work towards my academic goals and ensure that I am able to go to college. However, many of these resources became inaccessible due to the pandemic, and it left me–and others in similar situations–feeling lost. Education is important to me, and I wanted to make sure that I could help others progress in this journey even during difficult situations. Thus, I co-founded SupplyHopeInfo (SHI), a passion project that aims to mitigate educational disparities by providing free academic materials.
What I think played a key role in this project’s success is being able to build a good foundation right away. When Susanna and I brainstormed, I thought about everything logistically, from purchasing supplies to ensuring that we keep a relationship with the students we supported. I made sure to think about our potential actions from multiple views, ensuring that we were efficient but also thoughtful. Of course, there’s only so much I can plan out. I was constantly learning and adapting to new situations throughout this project. For instance, I realized that involving our team in every step is something I want to prioritize. Now, I always ask my team about their thoughts on how SHI is doing and how we can meet their personal goals. As a Co-Founder, I value my team’s hard work and dedication because SupplyHopeInfo wouldn’t be here without them.
At SupplyHopeInfo, I am the Co-Founder and Head of Network. Being a Co-Founder consists of ensuring that everything is running smoothly: checking in with everyone, answering emails, attending meetings, assigning tasks, organizing partnerships, working with the community, etc. With the Network team, our goal is to create a connection with the community.
We interview and share the stories of those experiencing different educational or financial situations in hopes of building a bond with the readers. We also compile a list of support and academic resources, outreach with community members to encourage participation, and connect with organizations to create partnerships that can further SHI’s mission. Although this may seem like a lot for one to take on, I have my team to thank. By delegating work efficiently, I am able to focus on other areas of SupplyHopeInfo that may have been forgotten such as our website, social media, and inbox. Understanding my limits and reaching out for help is how I manage my time effectively between SHI, school, and family responsibilities. I also believe that communication is important in balancing all aspects of life. When I sense that something is not going as planned in SHI, I make sure to address it right away. If my school or home responsibilities are making me overwhelmed, I take a step back to prioritize my tasks and begin tackling them. At the end of the day, I am human, too. I do get stressed, tired, and sometimes burnt out, but it’s all in the mindset. By remembering what I am doing, why I’m doing it, and how my community plays a role, I am motivated to continue.
Reflecting back, SupplyHopeInfo has changed my life. It has shown me the possibilities of my community; within just one month we were able to raise more than $2,000. Since then, we have amassed more than $40,000 and supported 2,000+ students. Beyond this, I have felt so much warmth from my community. Many have expressed care and opened new opportunities for me, and I am eternally grateful for all of their support. SupplyHopeInfo has also acted as a form of introspection. Through this whole journey, I realized that I am able to mold my future and pursue my multifaceted interests. As a result, I haven’t constricted my self-definition to an occupation. Rather, I am a student who sews, experiments, photographs, explores, and lives life to the fullest.
SupplyHopeInfo was started in the early days of distance learning in March of 2020. As a low-income student myself, I had to rely on school resources, such as school library computers and in-classroom supplies provided by my teachers. When distance learning was announced by our school district, I wondered how students that may also utilize on-campus resources were going to gain access to these supplies when schools closed and learning moved to home. SupplyHopeInfo started out as a small idea. Lana and I brainstormed ways to support our community during these times with a large focus on low-income students. We took the idea of fundraising for basic school supplies and within a few weeks, SupplyHopeInfo was up on GoFundMe and throughout social media platforms.
As co-founder, I oversee SupplyHopeInfo as a whole to make sure we are all on track and staying on top of our duties. Additionally, as I am fluent in both Chinese and English, I communicate with family recipients to update them on the shipping status of supplies and address any issues or questions they have. When we have press releases from Chinese media outlets, I help translate the articles into English. The Communications Team focuses on fundraising and donating to organizations, so as Head of Communications, I make sure our team is finding the right organizations that align with our mission and spreading word about SupplyHopeInfo to media outlets and community members. I think the best way to balance SupplyHopeInfo with school and other extracurricular activities is to plan out a schedule for which activities and tasks are meant for which days and time. It helps keep me focused on when I need to set aside time for SupplyHopeInfo and when I need to be working on other responsibilities.
Although I try my best to manage my time for running SupplyHopeInfo and other activities, sometimes it gets overwhelming trying to juggle other responsibilities. I think the most rewarding experiences in running SupplyHopeInfo are the results and feedback from families we have supported. After I make sure all the packages sent to students have been received, families send photos of their children with the supplies. Students are all smiles in their photos and parents are very thankful for their message. It gives me reassurance that families are happy with what SupplyHopeInfo is doing.
If you have an idea to support your community and start a fundraiser, go for it! SupplyHopeInfo started out as a list of bullet points and with those ideas, we hit the road. Don’t be afraid to make changes to your original idea of your project! If you think that your original goals don’t align with the direction your project is heading towards or your project’s mission, make those scalable modifications.
We hope to continue SupplyHopeInfo as long as we can and support more families with the funds we still have. So far, we do plan to continue SupplyHopeInfo in college. In the future and in college, I look forward to trying new activities and expanding my interests.