Providing for the urgent needs of students

Posted on October 11, 2011 by Michael Corley, consultant with The Patterson Foundation

By Pam Truitt, Student Emergency Fund Initiative Manager

When hardships befall parents, children feel the impact too.  Fortunately (if there is anything good to say about this), the needs become visible to teachers, cafeteria workers, friends and others when they arrive at school. Through no fault of their own, children find themselves hungry, without proper clothing, without personal items or needing urgent medical attention.

How embarrassing for the student to know that something is wrong and there is no way to figure out how to fix it.

In Sarasota County, Florida, 47 % of students enrolled in the 55 public schools qualify for free/reduced lunch.

Yes, you read it correctly.

Forty-seven percent or about 16,000 students.

When the economy was smokin’ and unemployment was low (2.7 %, March 2006), the percentage of students who qualified for free/reduced was 41 %. Unemployment has been north of 10 % since February 2009. This speaks to a larger issue in our local economy—one that is being addressed by groups focused on economic development.

The Patterson Foundation (TPF) founded the Student Emergency Fund to acknowledge there will always be student emergencies that need attention now—not later.  This is based on the premise that if the urgency is addressed quickly, the student will have a positive experience in the classroom.

TPF, in partnership with the Sarasota County School District, is phasing in the program and learning along the way, as there are no other programs exactly like this in Florida.  Although there may be bumps in the road, TPF is committed to helping students, who, through no fault of their own need urgent attention.

Did you ever go to school embarrassed?

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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