Editor’s Note: Roxie Jerde is the President & CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.
As the CEO of a foundation, I treasure the opportunities to get to know the recipients of programs we fund, but time limits how often I can meet them. When touching words of gratitude are passed along to me, a light is shined on the deeply personal impact of philanthropy.
The Student Emergency Fund—a fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County created in partnership with The Patterson Foundation and Sarasota County Schools—provides funding for emergency needs of students, allowing them to be engaged in their learning instead of worried about necessities.
Recently, a single mother sent a lovely hand-written note sharing what this funding meant for her and her son, a student at McIntosh Middle School.
“Thank you very much for your generosity in providing the $125 gift card for Walmart. I am in a difficult situation financially. This allowed me to purchase some new clothing for my son. I am a single mom not receiving child support due to my ex-husband being in the hospital unexpectedly and now unable to work. I greatly appreciate your assistance.”
Each year, many other Sarasota County students face urgent needs that impact their ability to learn and thrive. It’s often the teachers, bus drivers, counselors and other school staff members who notice that a student needs a new pair of shoes, eye glasses, or a coat. Historically, they reached into their own pockets to alleviate the urgent needs. And sometimes the needs went unmet.
We’re proud to now share that all 50 schools in Sarasota County have Student Emergency funds. Visible Men Academy in Manatee County has also been included in the program. Nearly 130 distributions totaling $79,406 have been granted to the schools since May of 2013.
The ability to access this help for students in need—without red tape—is making a tremendous difference for families and for the educators who often recognize these needs.
An additional endowed Student Emergency Fund at the Community Foundation will give us the flexibility to help meet students’ time-sensitive needs into perpetuity.
One more example of the power of a community foundation and a private foundation working together, the Student Emergency Fund’s success has involved joint brain power, administrative coordination and communication, and the belief that collaboration can streamline support for those who need it most.