School is now back in session in Sarasota County, but just three weeks ago, many students were going through the annual pre-school rituals of shopping for clothes, buying new shoes, getting a checkup at the doctor, visiting the dentist for a teeth cleaning and purchasing school supplies.
This right of passage concludes when school begins so that the kids can focus on learning, right?
Well, not for everyone.
In fact, if you read the newspapers and speak to teachers and principals, you will learn that there are an increasing number of our students who are impacted by financial limitations at home.
The proof? The number of kids on free and reduced lunch (a simple metric of family financial wherewithal) is increasing and is currently almost 50%.
This means that many of our students go to school without new clothes, without new shoes and without having had medical checkups. Even getting school supplies can be financially burdensome for these children and their families.
In fact, many of these kids go to school wearing clothes that are ill-fitting, shoes that are too small or have holes, glasses with outdated prescriptions…. you get the point.
Can you imagine this kind of embarrassment? (We can all recall how difficult it was as a kid when we didn’t fit in.)
The Student Emergency Fund was established by The Patterson Foundation at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to provide funding for those one-time emergency needs that inhibit our students’ abilities to learn.
Currently, each school in Sarasota County (we hope to expand into surrounding counties in the future) has access to money for eye glasses, new shoes, hearing aids, shirts, pants, underwear, etc. - any item that is considered a one-time need for eliminating a barrier to learning.
After a two-year pilot period led by TPF's consultant Pam Truitt, the Student Emergency Fund is being managed by our partner, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, so that the operating and endowed funds in support of this issue will be managed into perpetuity.
In addition, because the Community Foundation manages several sources of funds to support students, adults and families in our community, it is positioned to coordinate and allocate the resources available.
Kids have enough challenges to face in life every day. We hope the Student Emergency Fund will eliminate at least one of these.
Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.
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