Help Us Give 20,000 Back Packs to Students in High-Need Communities

As we know all too well, students in high-need communities can face many barriers in their pursuit of a high-quality education. Having access to school supplies doesn’t have to be one of them. That’s why American Eagle Outfitters, STATE Bags, and Teach For America are teaming up to give away 20,000 backpacks to students across the country – with your critical support.

For every STATE backpack purchased at American Eagle Outfitters this back-to-school season, we’ll be giving away a backpack to a child in need.  You can click here to purchase the backpacks online or find your local American Eagle Outfitters store here and turn your next shopping trip into one with far-reaching benefits.

Our partnership will equip students across 20 urban and rural communities with the supplies they need to enter the classroom ready to learn. In addition to receiving STATE bags, students at participating schools will also receive essential tools such as pencils, crayons and binders.

AEO blog post photo

In New York and Los Angeles, we’re excited for students to receive their bags during STATE’s signature bag drop events – motivational rallies led by STATE’s dedicated team of “PackMen” and “PackWomen” that leave participating kids with a renewed spirit and belief in themselves. Packmen and Packwomen are experienced child development specialists who grew up in low-income neighborhoods themselves and serve as role models and mentors.

In addition to purchasing bags to support deserving students, you can donate at the register of American Eagle Outfitters stores to support Teach For America. Funds will be matched by the retailer – up to $100,000 – to help Teach For America recruit, train, and place committed individuals to serve in our nation’s highest-need classrooms and open doors of opportunity to students.


Our three organizations are committed to providing all students with access to opportunities that will allow them to succeed in school and life. We’re thrilled that with your support we can put essential school supplies into the hands of 20,000 students and can help make the 2015-16 school year one that’s filled with endless promise and potential.

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Giving Back: Teach for America

As a company, we believe in supporting youth empowerment and education, so when it came time to select an organization to support, Teach For America was a natural choice. If you’re not familiar with Teach for America, you should be. Teach For America is a national teacher corps of recent college graduates who commit a minimum of two years to teach in under-resourced urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to expand educational opportunity.

Teach for America Teach for America

In October, Marcie Eberhart, Director of the AEO Foundation, along with AEO Style Director, Preston Konrad and Lauren Rourke, Manager of Styling, visited a classroom at New York City public school Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, also known as WHEELS, to talk fashion and the importance of education. WHEELS, founded by Teach For America alumnus Brett Kimmel (Houston Corps ‘96), serves 650 students in grades six through 12, nearly all of whom are people of color and 100 percent of whom are growing up in poverty. The school is posting impressive results; students exceed the citywide average pass rates on the Regents exams and 100 percent of their graduates have been accepted to college in the past several years. Preston and Lauren spoke about their journey through the fashion industry, eventually landing the job of their dreams at AEO, and spent time answering the students’ questions.

Teach for America

The entire junior class received a free pair of AEO Jeans.

Teach for America

Teach for America

This holiday season, we’re asking you to help give back. When you purchase an AEO gift box in stores for 50 cents, you will help a child in need. 100% of proceeds from gift box sales will be donated to Teach For America (up to $100,000) to sponsor 18 classrooms for one year.

Teach for America

Teach for America

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AE Friends & Family: Shuhei Y., Teach For America Social Media Manager

AE Friends & Family: Shuhei Y., Teach For America Social Media Manager

Meet Shuhei Y., the Social Media Manager for Teach For America (TFA), one of AEO Better World Foundation’s partners. Read on to learn more about one of Chicago’s most eligible bachelors (see more about that below!) and friend of AEO.

Tell the AEO fans a little bit about yourself. Age, alma mater, pets, anything!
I’m a 28-year-old musician and social media manager – born in Tokyo, raised in Nashville and now living in Chicago. I graduated from Duke University. I’m unhealthily obsessed with karaoke and the NBA.

How did you get started with TFA?
I’d always thought that the best way to make the world a more equitable place was through education, so Teach For America drew my interest when I was in college. I decided against applying to TFA because I couldn’t see myself as a teacher long term, but I ultimately ended up applying to join TFA’s staff because I wanted to be involved in education. I was lucky enough to be hired and I’ve been on staff ever since.

How has working with TFA inspired your life?
TFA has shown me that we absolutely need to improve educational opportunities for kids in low-income communities. Especially living in Chicago, you really get a sense of just how much students in under-resourced communities face in order to battle the symptoms of poverty. It’s staggering. Education is a social justice issue that needs to be addressed with urgency.

As far as my day-to-day life, I’m fortunate to be surrounded by incredibly humble, thoughtful and passionate people through TFA, whether they are our corps members, alumni or fellow staff members. It’s been a formative experience to work with such dedicated people.

You work with social media. What’s your favorite way to connect with TFA followers?
I love when we get to share stories of students and teachers doing amazing things, whether it’s an incredible traveling student poetry project or one of our teachers starting a high school lacrosse team in San Antonio. Social media is powerful in its ability to shape how we think about an issue, so I really hope we’re able to help dispel assumptions and stereotypes about education in under-resourced communities through these stories.

We also recently launched our Instagram account and we’ve got some big plans for it, so keep an eye on it.

You play bass in the Pet Lions and have an album, Houses, and a new EP, Popular Nature. How has the band influenced your life?
That’s a pretty big question, but the short answer is that it keeps me fulfilled and it keeps me busy. I get to regularly write, record and perform music with three of my close friends, and to me, there’s not much better than that. We’ve really put our blood, sweat and tears into it over the past few years, and it’s uniquely satisfying when it pays off and you get to play a sold-out show or hear your own music on a popular TV show.

See Pet Lions in an upcoming Chicago performance:

Schubas Tavern: 8.31.2013


Shuhei and his band members, Pet Lions.

What songs are currently on repeat on your iPod?
Local Natives released a stunningly good album back in January called Hummingbird and I still can’t stop listening to it six months later. Other than that, “William’s Heart” by Camera Obscura and “Song For Zula” by Phosphorescent are both really beautiful songs that have been on repeat lately.


Shuhei playing a show with his band, Pet Lions.

You were born in Tokyo. How has that culture impacted you?
Given my family’s Japanese background, I still carry a lot of Japanese social values – for example, I still value social interdependence over individualism. Being a first-generation immigrant has also allowed me to appreciate and experience empathy in a way that’s unique to being steeped in two very different cultures at a young age. Honestly, these values are part of what drew me to working for Teach For America and for social equity.

What’s next on your “Life to Do” list?
I’d like to get a dog soon. Maybe a corgi. I feel like having a corgi around just makes everything better. Look at them. They always look so goofy and happy.

In 2012, you were named one of Chicago’s most eligible singles. What would be your perfect date?
You know, this is an incredibly boring answer, but a perfect date for me is really simple: A quiet bar, a couple of drinks, good music and no distractions. A game of pool would be nice, too.



Shuhei out with friends.

What are your favorite spots in Chicago?
Coincidentally, I actually just wrote a guest blog post for a company called SideTour about my favorite spots in Chicago.

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AEO Better World: Teach for America

AEO Better World: Teach for America

As part of the AEO Better World Foundation, American Eagle Outfitters will contribute $1 to Teach For America for every pair of jeans sold July 14-18, up to $250,000, to support the recruitment, training, and development of teachers working in our country’s highest-need classrooms. AEO is also providing students in low-income communities with back-to-school essentials, including backpacks, school supplies, and more than $100,000 in gift cards for back-to-school apparel.

“In this country, there are more than 16 million children living in poverty who are not receiving the educational – and therefore life – opportunities that they deserve. From July 14 to 18, customers can help ensure that every child across America has access to an excellent education,” said Marcie E., Director of the American Eagle Outfitters Foundation. “Together, we can support their academic journey by providing financial resources, clothing and supplies that allow them to enter the classroom ready to learn.”

Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunities for children facing the challenges of poverty. Each year, the organization recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding individuals of all academic disciplines to commit two years to teach in under-resourced urban and rural schools and become lifelong leaders in the movement to end educational inequity. During the 2012-13 school year, more than 10,000 teachers led classrooms in 46 regions across the country through Teach For America.

American Eagle Outfitters is committed to improving youth education, and development through contributions to youth programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and through a $1 million pledge to The Pittsburgh Promise to support more students on the track to college-readiness.

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