The Backpack Project is an art installation and a massive donation drive to support, empower, and raise awareness about the over 21,000 Opportunity Youth in Pima County. This exhibit serves a similar purpose: EACH BACKPACK REPRESENTS 1,000 OF US.
We are a COALITION OF YOUTH who are seeking to amplify, complicate, and humanize the current conversation about the 4.9 million Opportunity Youth in the United States. OPPORTUNITY YOUTH are young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not in school and not working due to economic, social, and educational barriers. We used to be known as "at-risk youth" or "juvenile delinquents" or simply "disconnected." And while the language has changed, the challenges we face have not. We are survivors of poverty, in our homes and on our streets. The environments and systems we were born into have given us our greatest strengths and our most devastating obstacles.
OUR MISSION is to collect 21,000 backpacks that we will curate into an art installation on the UA campus on October 31. Following the installation, all the backpacks we collect will be donated: every individual backpack in the hands of an individual youth in need. We believe that ART forces us to see the world differently, and that installations like ours offer an experience that unites communities while uncovering the problems that divide us. We see art as a path to youth empowerment and an instrument for social change. Join us.
FOSTERING SUCCESS is a new campus community serving students who have experienced foster care, are struggling with housing insecurity, or are unaccompanied youth in need of more support. Each student works with a peer advisor in order to receive individualized support and reduce the feeling of isolation on campus. Fostering Success is committed to the success of all students, regardless of their backgrounds or challenges. This year, there are at least 359 students who are eligible to participate, with more students identified every week. EACH UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA BACKPACK REPRESENTS 100 STUDENTS.
This community-based exhibit and event was developed by Mercedez Marquez and the Backpack Project Youth Coalition as a collaboration between the University of Arizona's Fostering Success Program and the United Youth Leadership Council and with the support of Youth on the Rise, Cradle to Career, Young Leaders Society, and United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona. The backpacks were donated through private donations received to support the project.
Please donate new or gently used backpacks on campus at the following locations: the Student Recreation Center, the Main Library, the Student Union Memorial Center, the Frances McClelland Institute of Children, Youth, and Families, and the UA Museum of Art.