Pillowcase Project

The Pillowcase Project is a free interactive preparedness program designed for youth ages 8 to 11 and offered by Red Cross chapters to youth in schools, after-school programs, and at other sites and events. The program aims to increase awareness and understanding of natural hazards, teach safety and emotional coping skills, as well as the importance of personal preparedness. Through instructor-led presentations, students learn the best ways to stay safe, how to handle stressful situations, and what tools they can use at home to prepare for emergencies. Students also have the opportunity to decorate and personalize their own pillowcases, which serve as containers for a personal emergency supplies kit, and are encouraged to share what they’ve learned with friends and family.  The curriculum meets many of the Common Core State Standards for grades 3-5.  


The Pillowcase Project was created by the American Red Cross in Southeast Louisiana and implemented in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Kay Wilkins,

Southeast Louisiana regional executive, had learned that Loyola University students carried their valuables in pillowcases when they were evacuated for Katrina. This

inspired Wilkins and her team to work with an art therapist to create a program in which children living in makeshift communities across New Orleans decorated pillowcases as emergency supplies kits. Soon, The Pillowcase

Project became a preparedness education program for elementary school students, and in just a few years was adapted and implemented by several other Red Cross chapters with substantial success.

Between 2013 and 2016, the Red Cross redesigned the program, pilot tested it in several communities, and expanded it nationwide. The Pillowcase Project is now the signature youth preparedness program for the

Red Cross and is available throughout the country.


The Pillowcase Project will help create a generation of children who understand the science of hazards, are empowered to take action preparing for emergencies, and are excited to help create a prepared community by sharing what they have learned with family and friends.

Learning Objectives

Students who participate in The Pillowcase Project will be able to:

  • Identify the best ways to stay safe during emergencies that can occur in their communities.
  • Identify the best ways to prevent and stay safe during a home fire.
  • Use coping skills to help manage stress during emergencies and in everyday situations.
  • Gain confidence in their abilities to be prepared for emergencies through hands-on activities.
  • Use their knowledge to act as advocates for emergency preparedness in their homes and
  • Discuss the role science plays in emergency preparedness.
  • Understand and communicate the work of the Red Cross in their communities.

Program Structure

The Pillowcase Project is:

  • A 40- to 60-minute, classroom-based presentation given by Red Cross employees, volunteers and community partners.
  • For youth in grades 3-5 (ages 8-11).
  • Presented in schools, after-school programs, summer camps and at other youth-serving sites.
  • A standardized curriculum that combines instruction with physical and small-group collaborative learning
  • A program that meets many performance expectations for the Common Core Math and Language Arts Standards and Next Generation Science Standards for grades 3-5.

Curriculum Components

The Pillowcase Project consists of:

  • A Learn, Practice, Share framework to discuss preparedness concepts.
  • Emergency preparedness skills and information for a locally prominent hazard.
  • Home fire prevention and safety skills and information.
  • Age-appropriate coping skills for handling emergencies and other stressful situations.
  • Tools for increasing household
  • A brief hazard specific quiz.

Program Tools for Youth

  • A My Preparedness Workbook for students to continue learning and preparing after the presentations
  • A pillowcase to personalize anduse as a personal preparedness kit
  • A Certificate of Accomplishment

Curriculum Tools for Teachers

  • Science of Safety Teaching Kit with additional lesson plans
  • Three classroom posters
  • Education Standards Report to match curriculum to Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards
  • A copy of the students’ My Preparedness Workbook

Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies

Visit redcross.org/monsterguard to download the free youth preparedness game on your iOS or Android device!

For more information on the Red Cross Pillowcase Project or how to have your classroom participate, contact:

Guillermo Sanchez

Manager, Preparedness and Resiliency

(562) 490-4016


Or fill out the presentation request form here: https://volunteerconnection.redcross.org/?nd=vms_public_form&form_id=540