The objective of our Tools for School Program (Previously known as Backpack Plus) is to ensure that all children in Renfrew County have opportunities to participate fully in school, regardless of their family’s financial status. It is through that feeling of inclusion that children have the best chance to succeed and reach their full academic and social potential in life.

The Tools for School program has been around since the year 2000 and since that time it has helped hundreds of Renfrew County children and their families. Unfortunately, the sustainable funding has dried up and this program is in jeopardy. This year we know that between 1,000 and 1,500 children will need our help can you join us to make it happen?

We are appealing to individuals and the business community of Renfrew County to help save our Tools for School Program and to help us to make it sustainable. We need to find sustainability so that all children can start their school year in dignity with a backpack, school supplies, and shoes regardless of their economic status. We are asking for your help.

Research has shown that children who have the tools to learn are more likely to do well, graduate and transition to post-secondary education.

The cost to help each student is $75 per year, a small cost that makes a huge difference to a child in need. Tools for School helps to provide a backpack, school supplies, and at least one pair of shoes for children in need. We invite individuals, businesses, and organizations to commit to sponsor one or more children on an annual basis, this would ensure that Tools for School is available for as long as we have children in need living in our community.

By sponsoring one or more children we can invest in our community’s future by ensuring that all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential in life regardless of their family’s financial status.

Tools for School is a well-used program due to high poverty rates.  It is easily accessible, and is delivered in a dignified and respectful manner, this is extremely important as many individuals living in poverty are often stigmatized and judged.

Tools for School helps to remove barriers to learning, and helps to give every child the opportunity to reach their full potential in life, despite their financial status. Tools for School continues to make a big difference for children and families.

One parent called CPAN after receiving assistance from Tools for School, she said

“Thank you for allowing my child to be just like the other children!”


Imagine that you’re a 7 year old child starting the school year with only one pair of old runners. Your teacher tells you that you need a second pair for indoor use (and sometimes a third pair for gym). Then there are the remaining items on the school supply list that includes crayons, markers, a calculator etc. etc., plus the need for a backpack in which to carry everything daily from home to school and back. For the average family with a decent income, that prospect is daunting enough. Imagine though being a family living in poverty that cannot provide your children with such school necessities. The impact, as you can well imagine, would be devastating, not only for the child but for the parents who are sick with the feeling of shame and disappointment for their child. In Renfrew County one in nine children live in poverty, and unfortunately this type of situation is a reality that far too many local families experience.


CPAN is determined to keep Tools for School running so that we can help children in need in Renfrew County. Without our assistance, these children and youth will return to school unprepared to learn, and will feel socially excluded. Research shows that children and youth who are included do much better at school and are more likely to succeed, graduate, and transition to post-secondary education.

There are 2,590 children living in poverty throughout Renfrew County. This coming school year we anticipate that there will be between 1,000 and 1,500 children and youth who will need backpacks, supplies, and shoes. Their parents face many challenges, and have high hopes that their children will have a better life than they. Parents tell us that school is often the only place where they feel their children are on an equal footing with other children. Please help these children and youth get off to a good start at school, in their community, and in life.



Parents across Renfrew County are facing increasing financial need and challenges for their school-aged children. These challenges are evident on several fronts:

  1. School Board Restraint and Footwear Regulations: School boards have been forced by financial necessity to download the cost of school supplies onto parents. School boards in Renfrew County also require students to have running shoes for classroom and gymnasium activities that have non-marking soles, and purely for indoor use. This means Renfrew County parents must purchase extra footwear for their children outside the necessary footwear required for school. Tools for School (previously known as Backpack Plus) has been operating for several years, and has been well received by low income parents, social service agencies, and schools.
  2. Cost of Living increases: The past few years have seen spiralling costs for the basic necessities of life, namely heat hydro, and rent. Of particular concern for the coming year is the continuation of increased costs in electricity, home heating, rent, and gas. These costs are being covered by everyone in Renfrew County but for those families who are on fixed incomes there is often a choice between the necessities of life (food, heat, rent, etc.) and adequate school supplies, and footwear needed for school.

For families on low or fixed incomes these “necessities-of-life” dollars must be found somewhere. Unfortunately, they all too often come from the backpacks of children, from necessary footwear or clothing purchases, and/or make the painful decision to deny children school or community related activities such as; hot lunches, field trips, and participation with extracurricular activities. Parents are too often forced to make the difficult choice between meeting their families basic needs (including food), and being able to involve their children fully and adequately in their schools and communities. It is for these reasons that Tools for School was created.


If you know a business who would be willing to sponsor one or more children please direct them to our website and as a sponsor they can proudly display this image on their door.

Our children rely on local generosity, so if you see a business already displaying this please thank them and reward them by giving them your business. 

Thank You!!