“We worked with district leadership to really identify where the needs are and how can the foundation best assist those families and those students as they are transitioning to remote learning and as they're transitioning to this new way of life during a pandemic,” said Jamee Jolly, the senior director of the foundation.
The nonprofit honed in on three goals: ensure students and teachers have the supplies they need to be successful, help families with their financial needs and aid employees through a crisis fund, Jolly said.
The foundation has expanded its existing CORE Store, which supplements school supplies in classrooms. In some instances, teachers will dip into their own pockets to purchase supplies for students whose families cannot afford to pay. The CORE Store ensures teachers do not have to incur this expense themselves, Jolly said. The effort is funded through sponsors of the foundation. Some donors also hold supply drives to benefit the store, Jolly added.
“Teachers are able to visit the store and acquire those supplies that they need within their classroom, whether it be pens, pencils, markers, art supplies, paper or composition notebooks,” she said.
The needs of students changed with the adoption of remote learning, and since some students have opted to stay remote this fall, the foundation has delivered school supply packs to about 950 families in the district.
It also partnered with the district to hold several back-to-school fairs, which provided 1,500 backpacks filled with school supplies.
The foundation also has the Richards Douglass Immediate Needs Fund, which helps families in the district who are struggling financially. Several of the foundation’s donors and partners contribute to this effort, Jolly said.
“Maybe it’s a child that needs to have emergency dental work,” she said. “Or, maybe it's rent assistance, so that a family's not losing their apartment.”
The fund was created before the pandemic, but the foundation has seen an increase in need since March, Jolly said.
Though the district did not have to lay off any employees, some have had family members who lost their jobs. The foundation’s Employee Crisis Fund was able to address their needs as well, Jolly said.
“That has been a great tool as we kind of transition through the end of the school year going into this next school year,” she said.