First Book and State of Delaware Coordinate Basic Needs Closets for Students in High-Needs Schools

Delaware partners with organizations, hospitals to stock closets in 45 Delaware schools

BRIDGEVILLE, Del. (August 24, 2017) – Governor John Carney on Thursday announced an initiative to stock basic needs closets in 45 high-needs Delaware schools. The closets will receive supplies in time for the start of the school year thanks to the coordinated efforts of Delaware educators, Delaware businesses, Delaware healthcare institutions, and a partnership with the nonprofit First Book.

Governor Carney showcased the closets at three schools – one in each county – to highlight to the impact these free supplies will have on Delaware students and families. Educators at Highlands Elementary School in the Red Clay Consolidated School District, Towne Point Elementary School in the Capital School District, and Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in the Woodbridge School District hosted Thursday’s events.

“Students face tremendous obstacles to doing their best in school when their basic needs are not met,” said Governor Carney. “By coordinating resources throughout the state, we are helping to make certain every Delaware student in high-needs schools has the basic resources many of us take for granted so they can focus on their education and thrive in the classroom. Thank you to all of our partners who helped make this a reality for Delaware students.”

Delaware’s basic needs closets will provide elementary and middle school students across the state with increased access to free products designed to meet students’ needs so they can effectively participate in class. Each school’s basic needs closet will be stocked with products identified by districts and charter schools as essential to the wellbeing of their students, including hygiene products, school supplies, clothes, and more. Students will be able to discreetly access the closets throughout the school year.

Delaware healthcare institutions and businesses statewide donated funding for the closets, including Christiana Care, Bayhealth, Nemours, Incyte, Nanticoke, and Beebe Health Systems, as well as Cover Rossiter, EDiS, and Drinker Biddle. Delaware partnered with the nonprofit First Book to purchase the basic needs products at a reduced rate, as a part of the First Book First State partnership.

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“Since we know that disadvantaged students benefit academically when their basic needs are met, we are truly grateful to have more of these resources available for Delaware schools,” said Dr. Susan Bunting, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education. “Our goal is to assure that educators have needed supports so they can prepare all students for long-term success.”

The Governor’s focus on meeting students’ basic needs demonstrates the state’s commitment to supporting the needs of Delaware’s students to help them learn and thrive in school, which is part of the Governor’s broader education policy.

The Delaware Department of Education will be supporting the Basic Needs Closets initiative. Governor Carney in July announced the creation of the Innovation and Improvement office, which will support educators and students in high-needs schools, especially those in the City of Wilmington.

“Our primary goal is to determine school needs and then coordinate supports and resources for students and families so that all students can come to school ready to learn,” said the new Director of Innovation and Improvement Dorrell Green. “To make certain students and families in high-needs schools have what they need to be successful in the classroom, none of us can operate alone.”

Delaware districts and charter schools have also welcomed the basic needs closets as they look for new ways to meet the diverse needs of their students.

“One of the biggest challenges we face in education is children coming to school unprepared to succeed academically,” said Capital School District Superintendent Dan Shelton. “When we can address the immediate concerns first, we give students a greater opportunity to learn and, in turn, provide our teachers with better classroom environments that help every student.”

“When kids lack the most basic needs, including clothing and hygiene, their self-esteem and school attendance suffers,” said Kyle Zimmer, President and CEO of First Book. “Heroic teachers try to bridge the gap in resources — but the need is too great. We applaud the State of Delaware — led by Governor John Carney — for fulfilling these essential needs. This kind of leadership is a critical step in ensuring that all kids have the equal access to a quality education that they deserve.”


About First Book

First Book transforms the lives of children in need. Through a sustainable, market-driven model, First Book is creating equal access to quality education — making everything from brand-new, high-quality books and educational resources, to sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more – affordable to its member network of more than 325,000 educators who exclusively serve kids in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more than 160 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families in more than 30 countries. First Book currently reaches an average of 3 million children every year and supports more than one in four of the estimated 1.3 million classrooms and programs serving children in need. With an additional 1,000 educators joining each week, First Book is the largest and fastest-growing network of educators in the United States exclusively serving kids in need.

Eligible educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need can sign up at For more information, please visit or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.

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Jonathan Starkey
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