Students often lack the encouragement to study in school. This situation is further exacerbated for students in underserved communities, since they often lack the resources for academic success.
Government aid can help temporarily said Courtney Brockmeyer, a La Cañada Flintridge resident and founder of Sydney Paige Inc., whose company donates a backpack to a low income student for every backpack sold. But inspiring a culture of giving back can produce long-term progress.
“The idea is that each child encouraged to stay in school and graduate will have a positive impact, not only on them, but their family and friends as well. Each child enabled to succeed can begin to have a ripple effect far beyond what we can surmise today,” said Brockmeyer.
Her company’s mission is “to promote the importance of education and enrich the life of a child in need while empowering those more fortunate to help break the cycle of poverty . . . one child at a time.”
According to the National Education Association, said Brockmeyer, low-income kids are six times more likely to drop out of school than those from higher income families.
“Every school district has their own areas of need, but my goal is to begin to focus on those that have students lacking even the basic supplies and then extend from there,” she said.
But Brockmeyer was not always in the backpack business. She held a six-figure salary job at Nestle, where she led a worldwide initiative to be reach and serve lower income consumers. As she became more aware of the situations of these low income families, the more motivated she was to do more to help them.
She left her job at Nestle on May 31, 2013.
“While very well aware that I could never change everyone’s situation, the pull to do something more impactful grew in me,” she recalled.
The decision, and the journey since then, have been strenuous, but the support of her family, friends, and former coworkers has made moving forward a bit easier.
“As an entrepreneur, you can’t succeed without favors and a lot of help, and most definitely, without encouragement from others,” she said. “It would be easy to give up, but when you have so many who depend on you and lift you up, you can’t quit. This is what keeps you going.”
The support of her family has not only been central to her journey, but a source of inspiration as well. Brockmeyer’s company is named after her two daughters, Sydney, 7, and Paige, 8.
“[It serves] as a constant reminder to only do work that makes [her daughters] proud and helps teach them about the importance of education and giving back,” Brockmeyer said. “The business focus is education and the importance of staying in school and graduating.”
There are many ways for the community to support Brockmeyer’s give back movement. Individuals can purchase her products at www.sydneypaigeinc.com. Retailers can contact Brockmeyer via email at email@example.com for opportunities to carry Sydney Paige items in their stores and support the give back movement. Community groups, schools and other non-profit organizations can set up Sydney Paige fundraisers and receive 10% of the sales for their organizational needs, with the option to direct the matching products to sister schools or other organizations with children in need of their choice.
When Brockmeyer grows her business large enough, she hopes to begin granting scholarships for continuous education.
“No, I don’t believe a backpack will change a life,” she said. “But I do strongly feel that a designer backpack that is quality-made, filled with age-appropriate school supplies, coupled with the right positive messages and encouragement to see beyond the possibilities they see today will give kids the confidence and tools they need to do the hard work to stay in school and graduate… [my] focus will always be on education as self-empowerment for a better future.”