Karina’s Backpack Project and Dreams for Schools Partner to Streamline and Expand Reach to Serve More Students - Dreams for Schools
Dreams for Schools STEAM Scholarship Award presented by Neudesic – Spring 2021 Recipients
May 21, 2021
Dreams for Schools STEAM Scholarship Award presented by Neudesic – Summer 2021 Recipient
August 2, 2021

Karina’s Backpack Project and Dreams for Schools Partner to Streamline and Expand Reach to Serve More Students

Dreams for Schools (DFS) and Illumination Foundation have partnered to bring K-12 STEAM Coding & Technology classes to the students in the rapid rehousing and transitional housing shelters of Illumination Foundation in Orange County, CA. Both organizations believe in closing the digital equity gap and ensuring that quality educational programs can play a role in disrupting the cycle of homelessness in Southern California— making this a perfect partnership.

Karina’s Backpack Project (KBP), fiscally sponsored by the Joy of Sharing Foundation, was founded by Karina Tarsadia in 2018 to celebrate the back to school experience and equip young students with the necessary supplies to begin the school year. Karina was inspired to create the Backpack Project after having the opportunity to do service trips in places like India, Cambodia, and Africa through her family’s Foundation, the Tarsadia Foundation. She observed poverty on these trips as well as an incredible community spirit which ignited a spark in her to bring the community together and give back locally. With the emphasis her family placed on education and putting her best foot forward, she created the Backpack Project to help other young students feel equipped with the materials they needed to put their best foot forward in school.

In the first year of KBP in 2019, Karina’s effort helped provide 5,500 backpacks with school supplies, groceries, haircuts and food to students and their families. In 2020, due to COVID-19, Karina and her team shifted the strategy to work directly with partners and schools and distribute 15,000 backpacks. In 2020, KBP also started a Holiday program adopting families and kids and provided gifts to 1000 children to bring joy during the holiday season! Karina received the Outstanding Youth Award at the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) National Philanthropy Day event in 2020 for her work. 

Karina’s Backpack Project (KBP) has partnered with Dreams for Schools (DFS) to have DFS be the official implementation partner of the project. DFS’ Executive Director, Nithin Jilla, has mentored Karina since she began the project and helped connect her to the community. DFS was established to inspire, create and educate students to be STEM literate with hard and soft skills needed to become the critical thinkers, creative leaders, and technologists of tomorrow. DFS is a STEAM education non-profit organization working to advance education equity by bridging gaps in STEAM education, with an emphasis on computer science (CS), by working with a range of community stakeholders from K-12 students, educators, schools, districts, as well as higher education students to provide educational programs that would not otherwise be available to our clients. DFS works with schools and partners in Southern California and in different states across the US. 

With this partnership with DFS, Karina hopes to work more closely with school and community partners that DFS has close relationships both locally and regionally. In 2021, KBP aims to increase the number of students who will be impacted by their work by providing backpacks for 15,000 students in Orange and Los Angeles counties. Partners involved in the project in 2021 include Santa Ana Unified School District, The Priority Center in Orange County, The Boys and Girls Club of Garden Grove, Bag of Hope Project – Anaheim, CASA OC, Higher Ground Youth & Family Services, CalOptima, Tiyya Foundation, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, Families Forward and more. The team will be working with partners to distribute backpacks at the end of July and all throughout August as students return to school. 

“We are delighted to partner with Karina at Dreams for Schools and help with the implementation of the annual backpack project. Our focus on supporting youth with the resources they need is aligned and we are confident that as a result of this partnership, we’ll be able to further impact the students in our community” – Nithin Jilla, Executive Director of Dreams for Schools. 

“Partnering with an educational organization to build our capacity allows us to grow Karina’s Backpack Project both locally and regionally. We are looking forward to our partnership with Dreams for Schools to serve the communities we love and many more.” – Urvashi Patel, Karina’s Number one Supporter and Mom.  

“Service and education are important to me. I know that I’ve been blessed with opportunities and want to do my part to ensure that other students have the same opportunities and are set up for success. I want students everywhere to Dream Big!” – Karina Tarsadia, Founder of Karina’s Backpack Project. 

For more information regarding this collaboration, please visit the website or email Lauren at [email protected]