For two years in a row, 350 select students in the Poway and Escondido school districts have come to school on Monday mornings with full bellies and minds ready to learn thanks to the Backpacks for Kids program funded and implemented by Unite North County Inland.

Unite NCI is a “diverse, non-profit organization that is trying to help break the cycle of poverty for children in our community,” according to board member and strategic planning lead, Joe Schreiber, who also attends The Church at RB. With stakeholders from city institutions, churches, schools, and businesses, Unite NCI hopes to leverage its resources and influence to problem-solve the needs of impoverished children in the area.

First up was tackling food insecurity during the school year. After their backpack program was in place, Unite NCI members began to dream about expanding the project to become year-round. That’s when they partnered with our 1,000lb Food Drive to extend their food contributions to these local families. “We said, ‘OK, how can we expand this a little bit? Because hunger doesn’t end at the end of the school year. These kids are having the same problem over the summer.’ So we created a large food drive in the summer, particularly the months of June and July, and took all that food and distributed it to the Poway and Escondido Boys and Girls Club.

We were able to do that twice last summer and both times we collected over 8,000 pounds – so both times we delivered over four tons of food to the Boys and Girls Club. They were just thrilled by that. So, now that’s going to be an annual event that we do,” Schreiber explained.

The group has also begun to develop the groundwork for even more programs within the Poway and Escondido school districts that address the basic needs of students and families debilitated by homelessness or poverty. Schreiber worked for 30 years as an executive for Hewlett Packard before retiring so that he could devote more time to causes close to his heart. When he started attending The Church at RB with his family just over a year ago, he jumped right in to find the perfect fit for his talents. That came in the form of Unite NCI. Schreiber is now in charge of strategic planning and deployment of activities for the nonprofit, and he’s ready to welcome anyone who’s looking for opportunities to serve. “If you have talents in finance, marketing, communications, strategic planning, or anything, we can use it. There are opportunities to donate time, talent, or treasure. No matter where you come from, we can use anything you’ve got.” The Church at RB will continue to lead the way for Unite NCI, an initiative that we spearheaded and launched alongside other organizations and community leaders in 2018.