Empowering Children In Need To Succeed

KidSmart's doors were opened in 2002. Now more than two decades later, the Maryland Heights nonprofit helps kids in some 4,500 classrooms in 17 school districts within the St. Louis area.

“Each year, there are 90,000 kids in the St. Louis area whose families live at or below the poverty level and who attend schools in our highest poverty neighborhoods. That’s enough kids to fill Busch Stadium, twice. These kids have the ability and desire to learn, they simply cannot afford the critical school supplies,” says KidSmart Founder and CEO Jennifer Miller. “Throughout each year, KidSmart provides educational resources for tens of thousands of these students.”

In its 21-year history, KidSmart has distributed more than $85 million in free school supplies to the kids who need it most in the St. Louis area. “This is a communitywide issue. With a communitywide effort, we create a communitywide impact. These children are our future employees, our future consumers. By supporting them, we lift up our entire community, in the future.”

Jennifer says people often don’t realize that kids in their own local communities start school without the most basic supplies. “Equipping kids with tools for learning provides them equity and the opportunity to access education,” she says. “We’ve proven we can come together and make a difference.”

That proof is in the success stories KidSmart has witnessed. “There are thousands of stories of success,” Jennifer says. Like the fifth grader in the Riverview Gardens School District who wrote a thank you note: “I’ve always been that kid—the kid who starts school without school supplies. My mom wanted to afford school supplies, but she just couldn’t. KidSmart made me not be ‘that kid’ anymore.” 

“He [that kid] is an attorney today,” says Jennifer.

The following are just a few of the ways KidSmart equips kids:

  • The KidSmart Free Store: The only free, educational supply store in Missouri.
  • Free Store on the Go!: The KidSmart On the Go! truck takes services on the road, delivering essential supplies directly to students and into classrooms.
  • Push for Pencils, Push for Change: The largest school supply drive in Missouri, rallying the support of employees and businesses across the St. Louis area and collecting more than 500,000 brand new school supplies at its community drop-off locations each year. Just $25 equips a student with $125 in free school supplies for back to school. 
  • Crafts with Conviction: Partnering with the Missouri Department of Corrections, each school year since 2002, more than 1,000 offenders in Missouri correctional facilities donate 500,000-plus hours of their time to create educational and learning materials for the students KidSmart serves.
  • Annual Giving Club: Members provide a class with a set of free school supplies to equip 100 percent of the students in a high poverty classroom.
  • Head of the Class Society: An exclusive donor circle at $1,000 and higher, provides the foundation of annual support that enables KidSmart to deliver a 5-times annual ROI.
  • KidSmart Gift of Heart Volunteers are always needed to sort donated supplies, inventory products and help with special events and mailing projects.
  • Individuals or companies may host supply drives, sponsor a school, a classroom or a student, or host an event or party to raise important funding.

“It’s a need that is year-round,” Jennifer says. “So many educational resources are consumable. You may have leftover items from your own event, such as paint, paper, art supplies, staplers, pens, pencils or T-shirts. Anything may be utilized by teachers and students to equip them to learn. If they’re branded, that’s fine, too. It lets kids know there are companies who believe in them, and places where they may possibly work someday. There's a place for everyone at KidSmart, and the payoff for kids, for our community, is big.”


Related Businesses

St. Charles Community College

Colleges + Universities

St. Charles Community College

Cottleville, MO

We're student-focused. St. Charles Community College puts students first. It's that simple, and it's why so many people find...

See More

Related Articles

See More