The Backpack Project




21,000 Backpacks for 21,000 Opportunity Youth

Donation Deadline: October 15th 

Art Installation October 31st on the

University of Arizona Mall 

Backpack Distribution: TBD


The Backpack Project is both an art installation

and a massive donation drive that aims to raise awareness about the

over 21,000 Opportunity Youth in Pima County.


We are a coalition of young people who are seeking to amplify and complicate the current conversation about the existence of Opportunity Youth in the United States.


Opportunity Youth are young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not in school and not working due to economic, social, and educational barriers. We used to be known as "at-risk youth” or “juvenile delinquents” or simply “disconnected.” And while the language has changed, the challenges we face have not.   

We are survivors of poverty, in our homes and on our streets. The environments and systems we were born into have given us our greatest strengths and our most devastating obstacles.


Our goal is to collect 21,000 backpacks that we will display in an interactive, youth-curated art installation on the campus of the University of Arizona. We are asking for donations of new and gently-used backpacks as well as monetary contributions that we can then use to purchase backpacks ourselves.

Following the installation, all the backpacks we collect will be donated to organizations that serve Opportunity Youth in Pima County: every individual backpack in the hands of an individual youth in need.


We believe that art forces us to see the world differently, and that installations like ours offer an experience that unites communities while uncovering the problems that divide us. We see art as a path to youth empowerment and an instrument for social change. Join us.



United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona (300 N. Commerce Park Loop Suite 200, Tucson, AZ 85745)

Goodwill METRO Youth Program (300 N. 4th Ave, Tucson AZ, 85705)

Vantage West Credit Union Branch Locations during the month of September -- (Click here to see participating locations)

Bookmans - Tucson locations 

Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson (265 S. Church Ave)

University of Arizona Museum of Art (1031 N. Olive Rd.)

Frances McClelland Institute (650 N. Park Ave. Suite 235)

UA Student Union Memorial Center (1209 E. University Blvd. -- in the New Student Experiences area located by the Women's and Gender Resource Center) 

UA Campus Rec (1400 E. 6th St.) 

UA Main Library (1510 E. University Blvd.)  



United Youth Leadership Council 

The University of Arizona Fostering Success

Cradle to Career Partnership, Youth on the Rise

Young Leaders Society

United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona


Email [email protected]

Check out more info about the United Youth Leadership Council here

Check out our Facebook page for more details about the Art Installation on October 31st on the UA Mall. Click here for a campus map, the pink highlighted area is where the event will take place and orange highlighted area is the Second St. Garage (where you'll find the closely parking at $2.00 per hour). 

See a portion of the Art Installation here


You can donate here online ($10/backpack) or you can drop off new or used backpacks at a location listed below.