Low-income students often lag behind their peers in school, making it difficult to catch up. But some programs can help them succeed academically and even move into higher education (and out of poverty). Below are some of the best options for low-income students in America.


Cost-free school lunch

In the United States, several government-funded programs provide free or reduced-cost meals to children in need. These include:

  • The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides after school meals to students whose families meet income eligibility requirements. You can find more information about applying for this program here.
  • The School Breakfast Program (SBP) serves complimentary breakfast to students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches and those who don’t but still have meager incomes. You can learn more about applying for SBP here; check out our article on starting your school breakfast club if you’re interested in getting involved locally!
  • Special Milk Program (SMP), which provides milk at no cost to those students who don’t get it through NSLP or SBP but meet specific criteria explicitly related to their family situation, such as being homeless or living in foster care homes.

Free or reduced-cost breakfast

Complimentary or reduced-cost breakfast is available to all students at many schools. If your child is eligible, he or she will receive a special card to present at the cafeteria line. You can ask the school’s principal or guidance counselor about eligibility requirements and how to apply for free or reduced-cost meals.

After-school programs

After School programs are a great way to keep kids safe and off the streets and provide activities to keep them engaged. These programs can be free or low-cost, and they have options for different ages and interests. They can also help develop skills like teamwork, leadership, and communication that will serve your son or daughter well throughout life.

Classroom supplies

Classroom supplies are a great way to help students and teachers. They’re also an easy way to impact the classroom since many of these items are difficult for schools to find funding for.

Unfortunately, classroom supplies can be expensive. If you want your gift of school supplies to have an impact, it must include things that teachers need most–not just ones that look nice or are fun for the kids (though those things are certainly appreciated).

Free clothing resources

You can help kids in your community by donating old clothes, books, and other items they may need. Here’s how:

  • Donate your used clothing to a local charity that provides them to low-income families.
  • Donate money so they can buy the things they need most, such as school supplies or shoes.
  • Volunteer to help with the clothing drive at your local thrift store or shelter (if possible).
  • Give a gift card for clothes to a local thrift store as a holiday present for someone on your shopping list (or just because!).

Tutoring and homework help

Tutoring and homework help

Tutors can be an excellent resource for students who are struggling with particular subjects. Many schools hire tutors to provide one-on-one instruction, but some programs also allow students to sign up for group tutoring sessions.

Homework help

Homework help is another option for students who need additional support with their homework assignments. At many schools, teachers provide this service during class time; however, some programs also offer after school or weekend options, so parents and kids don’t have to miss any school days if they want extra assistance with their schoolwork.

Learning centers

Learning centers are another way of providing additional support within the classroom environment itself. These spaces usually include computers where students can work on projects related to specific subjects such as math or science while receiving guidance from teachers or other staff members who monitor progress through software systems designed specifically for this purpose.


As you can see, there are many ways to help low-income kids. Whether providing free lunches or clothing resources, these programs can make a big difference in the lives of children who need them most.