United Way of Olmsted County Launches Running Start for School 2023

Each summer, the Olmsted County community rallies together with United Way of Olmsted County to make sure every student in our area has the tools they need to start the school year ready to learn. Education is a key building block in life, and United Way supports programming that ensures all students have what they need to thrive in and outside of the classroom.

“Rochester Public Schools is grateful that our partners have committed to ensuring all kids have ‘Running Start’ to the new school year,” said Lida Casper, Coordinator of Community Partnerships for RPS. “Starting school with a new backpack and school supplies is a major part in helping kids feel ready to learn and excited to start school.”

This year, United Way is partnering with 47 Olmsted County schools to ensure nearly 3,000 students start school with the supplies they need. Community members are invited to help make sure students can focus on school, not on whether they have supplies, by donating today. To donate, purchase pre-packed backpacks through United Way’s online drive at www.roonga.com/runningstart2023 beginning June 1st. For less than $20, you can make sure a student is prepared to attend school.

"Partnerships with the greater Rochester community are key for supporting all learners in Olmsted County,” said Annemarie Vega, President of Rochester Catholic Schools. “RCS is blessed to share in the educational journey of over 1,350 students, each coming with their own family story and diverse experiences in life. Working with United Way to provide school supplies to students not only closes the gap for some of our learners, it also serves to model stewardship and compassion to those in need. RCS is built on excellence, character, and community – thank you for your outreach to our families."

Lauren Belter, Assistant Store Leader at Rochester SCHEELS, said: “For 5 years now, SCHEELS has had the opportunity to be a part of a program that helps our youth with the basic needs to set the school year up for success. As there are so many needs throughout Rochester and surrounding communities, we feel as though any effort made to help better the education for our youth is a step in the right direction. We are grateful to be able to participate in the Running Start Program and are excited to see what the 2023-2024 school year has to bring!”

Want to help? You can get involved by donating, hosting a collection on Roonga with friends, and encouraging others to work together to ensure Olmsted County children and youth reach their potential in school and the community this fall. Organizations are encouraged to use the Roonga team feature, allowing multiple organizations, departments, or groups to compete against each other to see who can donate the most supplies. United Way’s Running Start for School drive is available at www.roonga.com/runningstart2023 until August 14th, 2023. Together, we can ensure every student in Olmsted County has a running start for school.

SCHEELS is the Title Sponsor of the UWOC Education Fund. Thank you also to our Supporting Sponsors of the Education Fund, Rochester Chevrolet and Your Select Chevy Dealers, KTTC, Townsquare Media, Luther Park Place Motor Cars, and Ace Movers.

*Please note: If you are looking to receive supplies, please contact your child’s school directly.




About United Way of Olmsted County

United Way of Olmsted County is a social change organization that fights for the education, health, and financial stability of every person in our community.

We do this in a variety of ways. We operate programs and provide shared resources that support the community, such as our 211 information and referral service or our Get Connected volunteer matching portal. We work collaboratively with partners from many organizations and walks of life to create system change and solutions that elevate our community more than any single program or organization could. We provide financial, technical, and volunteer support for programs that make a difference.

At United Way, we LIVE UNITED with the change-makers, risk-takers, and problem-solvers as we seek, find, and create lasting solutions to the challenges that face our community.


Grace Pesch

Impact Strategist

United Way of Olmsted County