A Gift for Teaching is thrilled to share major news: The Great Big Backpack Build has been honored with the prestigious “Innovation & Excellence in Fundraising” Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Central Florida Chapter!

In a region brimming with incredible events, The Great Big Backpack Build stands out as a testament to every team member, volunteer, and corporate partner, collectively contributing to its resounding success. What sets this event apart is not only the commitment to the mission but also the unwavering belief in the power of community and collaboration.

This event is exclusive to sponsors of A Gift for Teaching’s Ready For Back-to-School campaign. Sponsorship opportunities are available and supporters are recognized throughout the entire back-to-school season for their support of local teachers and students.

Together, we’re building backpacks for brighter futures and creating a movement that goes beyond fundraising – we’re making a meaningful impact in the lives of those in the community where we live, work, and play.

A special thank you to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando for submitting the following award-winning nomination!


As the President & CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando, I have the pleasure of nominating A Gift For Teaching for the Innovation & Excellence in Fundraising award.

As many non-profit organizations, A Gift For Teaching hosted an annual fundraising gala that served as one of the main events for this organization.  In my current role, we produce many of these types of events, and have first-hand experience on the amount of logistics involved and how much of the money raised has to go to pay for the event and overhead.  Although very successful and the themes were always fun, this gala became one of the many great events our non-profit community held.

In 2019, the staff, board and host committee reevaluated the event and moved forward to create a new fundraising event that would be unique and impactful while allowing funders and participants to connect with the mission in a more profound way.

Moving away from the traditional gala model, a promising new fund and supply cultivation event was developed and set for summer 2020 called The Great Big Backpack Build. The original vision was to gather 500 advocates for equity in education in order to assemble a goal of 30,000 backpacks to equip students for the new school year. The pandemic severely mitigated the potential impact of that event. While A Gift For Teaching did not reach the goal of assembling 30,000 backpacks, it was still an unparalleled success that was vital to over 12,000 students who were able to start this unconventional school year with a fresh, new backpack full of school supplies.

A Gift For Teaching speedily adjusted the inaugural format of The Great Big Backpack Build of 2020 to a smaller, safer setup at A Gift For Teaching’s Free Teacher Supply Store. They broke up the event into a two-week marathon of mini-backpack builds. Despite the setback imposed by COVID-19, this proved to be an excellent launching point for another A Gift For Teaching innovation.

Now in its fourth year, The Great Big Backpack Build is a high-energy, high-impact team giveback experience. More than 30 sponsors get the chance to bring a group of volunteers and join other local advocates for access in education to assemble a total goal of 20,000 backpacks to ensure students are ready to learn on the first day of school. Backpacks are distributed to high-need schools in partnership with Orange and Osceola County Public Schools prior to the start of the 2023-24 school year.

A Gift For Teaching has had a 25-year history of innovation as they continually find new ways to better serve teachers and the growing number of local students in need. While always developing more strategic and unique methods to grow their distribution and services, the same innovation has been instrumental in launching a truly successful annual fundraising initiative that is both high mission and high impact.

Want to participate in The Great Big Backpack Build next year? 

This event is exclusive to the sponsors of A Gift for Teaching’s Ready for Back-to-School campaign. Contact us for unique partnership and corporate team opportunities!

MORE ABOUT OUR BACK-TO-SCHOOL INITIATIVES