This summer, 75 students from Breckenridge will receive brand-new backpacks stuffed with essential school supplies through the Bremer Backpacks initiative. Made possible by Bremer Bank’s expanded partnership with United Way, this first-of-its-kind initiative ensures more than 5,000 children in need across the Upper Midwest will be well-equipped to tackle the upcoming new school year.

During the week of June 10, hundreds of Bremer employees volunteered in shifts to assemble the backpacks at the company’s Service Center in Lake Elmo. Stocked with classroom essentials including crayons, markers, colored pencils, notebooks, pocket folders, glue sticks, scissors, pencil pouches, erasers and pencil sharpeners, completed backpacks were distributed to more than 65 Bremer locations throughout its footprint in Greater Minnesota, western Wisconsin and North Dakota.

Launched in conjunction with Bremer’s 75th year in business, the Bremer Backpack initiative represents the company’s philanthropic mission – originally stemming from founder Otto Bremer – to invest in the communities they serve. This initiative also follows Bremer’s recent rebrand, in which a new logo and website were launched to signal the bank’s focus of meeting its customers where they are and in a way that provides value to them.

“For 75 years, Bremer Bank has defined its purpose as helping our communities grow and prosper,” said Jeanne Crain, president and CEO of Bremer Bank. “We are proud to continue this commitment through the Bremer Backpack initiative and are thrilled to have a such a dedicated partner in the Greater Twin Cities United Way.”

“When it comes to educational success, our vision is that all children are ready to thrive academically, personally and socially,” said John Wilgers, president and CEO of Greater Twin Cities United Way. “We are grateful to Bremer Bank for its support and commitment to helping students in the Upper Midwest start the year off confidently and ready to learn.”

According to the 2018 Huntingdon Backpack Index, the average cost of classroom supplies is $637 for an elementary school student, $941 for a middle school student and $1,355 for a high school student. A 2018 survey from the National Center for Education Statistics notes that 94 percent of public school teachers pay an average of $479 worth of classroom supplies per year out of their own pocket, with some spending more than $1,000.

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