Stuff the Bus

Stuff the Bus 2021 is here - Virtually!

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Stuff the Bus²: Bigger Together, Stronger Together, Better Together

United Way SLO County is proud to announce the launch of our annual Stuff the Bus event - a Back-To-School drive to gather essential backpacks and school supplies to help ensure that all youth in our community start the new school year prepared. 

More than ever, many local students and teachers are in need of the supplies necessary to begin the year successfully. Last year over 4,000 students in need received donated supplies countywide, but there were still over 1,000 students in need of supplies. For the past 12 years we have partnered with many local school districts to get these school supplies to the kids and families who need them most.  That process will continue this year as well. This year, we are proud to partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters of SLO County for Stuff the Bus²: Bigger Together, Stronger Together, Better Together.

Our goal for this school year is to fill and distribute 500 backpacks with new school supplies to children and families in need. While we are still accepting limited in-person donations, this virtual campaign allows us to maximize our reach and makes it easy for you to participate.

To visit our online fundraising site, click here. You can also make a direct donation to both the United Way and Big Brothers Big Sisters of SLO County in any amount you wish - no item selection necessary. Your business or organization is always encouraged to participate as a team. Teams are a great way to encourage employees and customers to go online to purchase much needed school supplies or to make a donation. Click here to create your STB² team today!

Thank you for helping us Stuff the Bus!


We will miss having our buses on location at multiple businesses countywide and we will especially miss our volunteers who made it all happen in person! Thank you to everyone who helped make this event so successful in the past, we look forward to having buses and volunteers out in our community next year!


Check out these great features from our media sponsor,


Thank you to American General Media for sponsoring our Radio PSA's!


Thank you Coast Hills for your sponsorship!

Why is this important?

In 2017-2018, there were more than 3,000 students in San Luis Obispo County who were homeless or vulnerable and over 15,500 who were socioeconomically disadvantaged according to the Education Data Partnership. Stuff the Bus helped these children start school equipped with the supplies they needed to be ready to learn. Backpacks were distributed throughout the county via the Family Resource Centers located in five school districts (PRJUSD, AUSD, SLCUSD, LMUSD and Coast USD).The number of students facing homelessness in SLO County has increased over the past decade. It’s more than a backpack, Stuff the Bus eases the financial burden on families and gives children a boost of self confidence. These students often struggle in school. Of homeless elementary students, only 28% are proficient in reading and 17% in math. Many drop out without earning a high school degree. Homelessness causes severe trauma to children and youth, disrupting their relationships, putting their health and safety at risk, and hampering their development (1, 2). Homeless children are more likely than other children to experience hunger and malnutrition, and to develop physical and mental health problems (2). Emotional distress, developmental delays, and decreased academic achievement are also more common among this population (2). Many of these children and youth experience deep poverty, family instability, and exposure to domestic violence before becoming homeless, and homelessness increases their vulnerability to additional trauma (1, 2). In addition to the risks faced by homeless children, including increased vulnerability to sexual exploitation, youth without homes are far more likely than their peers to be infected with HIV and have other serious health problems (2, 3, 4).
During the 2015-16 school year, more than 1.3 million children in the U.S. public school system were homeless, a historic high for the nation (5). California, alone, accounted for approximately one-fifth of all homeless public schools students in the U.S. that year, and has ranked 48th of all 50 states in performance on issues of child homelessness (1, 5).

Sources for this narrative:

1.  Bassuk, E. L., et al. (2014). America’s youngest outcasts: A report card on child homelessness. National Center on Family Homelessness. Retrieved from:

2.  American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Community Pediatrics. (2013). Providing care for children and adolescents facing homelessness and housing insecurity. Pediatrics, 131(6), 1206-1210. Retrieved from:

3.  Walker, K. (2013). Ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children: A call for multi-system collaboration in California. California Child Welfare Council. Retrieved from:

4.  California Homeless Youth Project. (2014). HIV and youth homelessness: Housing as health care. Retrieved from:

5.  National Center for Homeless Education. (2017). Federal data summary school years 2013-14 to 2015-16: Education for homeless children and youth. Retrieved from: