CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A new partnership aims to help all elementary school students in Charlottesville.

The Chris Long Foundation is teaming up with Charlottesville City Schools to launch the newest part of the EdZone program next week.

According to a release, this program will result in the distribution of essential needs items at all of the elementary schools in the city during the 2022-2023 school year.

Each school will select a dedicated spot, an “EdZone closet,” where students will be able to access basic supplies.

Items will include things like soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, menstrual hygiene products, deodorant, clean socks and underwear, and seasonal items such as umbrellas, hats and gloves.

The school division’s Coordinator of Family and Student Engagement will buy and distribute the items to the schools through a central storeroom at the division’s administrative annex.

Students in need will be identified by staff who are already supporting them, including school administrators, teachers, counselors, nurses, and social workers.

The release says these staff members will help students access the items in the EdZone closet in a way that respects their dignity and privacy.

The Chris Long Foundation is also planning to support periodic drive-through Response to Essential Needs events at Charlottesville High School.

During such events, area families will be able to pick up bags of essential needs items and grocery cards.

“There’s evidence that students who are not getting these basic needs met can suffer from stress and low self-esteem. It can cause them to feel disconnected from their classmates and even miss school, all of which affects how they feel about being at school and ultimately, their performance,” said Chris Long, founder of the Chris Long Foundation. “The goal of our EdZone partnership with CCS is to support student success by ensuring kids arrive at school comfortable, confident, and ready to learn.”

“When I arrived at Charlottesville City Schools last year, the wide diversity of our students’ experiences was immediately apparent,” said Superintendent Dr. Royal Gurley. “One step toward eradicating academic disparities is to truly make our students feel welcome, supported, and equipped to succeed. We thank Chris Long and the Foundation for being such good partners in this work.” 

Several area businesses, foundations and individual donors have helped to fully fund the launch of this new program, including Better Living Building Supply, Woodard Properties, the Genan Foundation, Frank Saul Construction, and more.

The release says this initiative aims to advance educational equity issues in communities across the country.

There are plans to expand the program to Philadelphia and St. Louis over the next year, honoring Chris Long’s NFL career.

For more information about EdZone, click here.