Monday, June 24, 2024

Nomarama shifts focus from food to school supplies with drive for low-income students

VIRGINIA BEACH — Going back to school can be exciting for students but expensive for their parents.

That’s why the folks at Nomarama are trying to help underprivileged students in Hampton Roads with a back-to-school drive.

Normally a brand that works on the cross-promotion of restaurants, pop-ups and breweries, Nomarama is turning its focus for the next few weeks to collecting donated school supplies from drop off-locations set up at Norfolk and Virginia Beach businesses.

About 61,500 children in Norfolk and Virginia Beach are “economically disadvantaged,” according to Voices for Virginia’s Children, an organization that works on child policy and advocacy.

Being economically disadvantaged means that those children are from homes where families struggle to meet basic needs like food, housing and transportation.

In Norfolk, only 64 percent of third graders pass their standards of learning tests, while 83 percent pass them in Virginia Beach. Later in their education, about 15 percent of Norfolk’s students do not graduate on time, while eight percent don’t graduate on time in Virginia Beach, according to VVC.

As some local families struggle to pay for school supplies, the cost of sending students to the classroom is on the rise for elementary and middle school children.

This year, parents of elementary school children can expect to pay about $662 for school supplies per student, which is a 1 percent increase from last year. Parents of middle school students can expect to pay about $1,000 in school supplies, marking a 4.6 percent increase from 2016, according to Huntington Bank’s annual “Backpack Index.”

The cost of sending high school students back to the classroom went down by $9 — to about $1,489 — in 2017.

“I just want every student to have as equal of a chance as possible,” said Nomarama founder Jarrell Williams. “Especially in grade school.”

To ease the load, Nomarama has partnered with 10 local businesses that will serve as drop-off locations beginning Thursday morning.

Those include:

  • 1701, located at 1701 Baltic Ave., Virginia Beach
  • Toast, located at 2406 Colonial Ave., Norfolk
  • O’Connor Brewing Company, located at 211 W. 24th St., Norfolk
  • Anderson’s Garden Center, located at 1925 Fisher Arch, Virginia Beach
  • Spoon Dessert Cafe, located at 2129 General Booth Blvd. #115, Virginia Beach
  • Field Guide, located at 429 Granby St., Norfolk
  • Stoley’s, located at 1408 N. Great Neck Road #105, Virginia Beach
  • The Prince Ink, located at 433 Granby St., Norfolk
  • Wasserhund Brewing Company, located at 1805 Laskin Road, Virginia Beach
  • Handsome Biscuit, located at 2511 Colonial Ave., Norfolk

Williams said he was inspired to do the 2017 back-to-school drive by his friend Nicholas Bailey, the founder of non-profit Make Caring Cool. Bailey did a drive last year, which Williams helped with.

This year, Bailey is living in Richmond, but Williams felt like the school drive should continue for Hampton Roads students.

“Parents are focused on the other things they need, like a place to live and food, that school supplies just take a backseat,” Williams said. “Not until you go to the store to get them all do you realize just how much that stuff costs, especially when all you want to do is send your kids to school looking his best and prepared.”

Find out how you can get involved by emailing Nomarama at

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