School uniforms, while detested by many students, are an important part of many schools' daily routines. However, the cost of school uniforms can often be burdensome for low-income families already struggling to make ends meet. There are virtually no grants specifically designated for the purchase of school uniforms, but there are several "back-to-school" expenses grants that would enable parents to get money to purchase school uniforms for their children.
One option for students in Oklahoma is a grant provided by The Kerr Foundation through their Christmas Connection program. The grant, given to low-income students, allows them to purchase school supplies and uniforms. The Christmas Connection, a program started in 1981, attempts to link those "those in need of giving, to those in need of receiving." Funding may change from year to year.
Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust
Students in the Maricopa area of Arizona have the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Grants at their disposal. In 2006, the trust doled out about $425,000 in funds for the purchase of school clothing and uniforms for the county’s neediest students. The grants typically range between $2,500 and $5,000 and are awarded to public schools, which then purchase uniforms for students, provide them with vouchers or organize shopping trips for children to select their own clothing.
Operation School Bell
For students in the Long Beach School district in California, there is a program called Operation School Bell of the Assistance League of Long Beach. This program, designed to help low-income students feel comfortable in their clothes while at school, allots enough funding to provide elementary, middle and high school students with free school uniforms. In the 2009-2010 school year 7,500 students were clothed and for the 2010-2011 school year, the organization hopes to provide uniforms to 10,000 students.
In 2009, New York State provided a one-time $200 back-to-school supplement grant to families receiving welfare who needed to cover school expenses. The money could be used for purchasing school uniforms, school supplies and other necessities.
Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless
There are a variety of grants available through the Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless Foundation. Designed for those who are homeless, the grants provide money for families to purchase school supplies including uniforms. The funds are area-specific and typically offer families around $2,000.
Amanda Younger is a freelance writer based in New York City. She has had her work published in "The Chapel Hill Herald," "Time Out New York" and "Independent Weekly" among other publications. She is also a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism.