You likely see them in your own neighborhood. Students going to school in their new outfits and running shoes with backpacks filled with fresh school supplies. There is excitement in the air in anticipation of a new school year bringing new adventures.
But not all students have this experience. For some of the young minds in the Halton District School Board those extras are simply not an option.
That's where the Halton Learning Foundation (HLF) steps in. The Foundation is focused on “supporting students and strengthening schools.”
One area of support is working with community donors and partners, to assist individual students and their families who are facing challenging financial times with basic necessities like school supplies, clothing or footwear through the Barriers to Learning Fund.
“Public education is here for all students however there are still costs that families incur,” says Susan Busby, who sits on the HLF Board of Directors.
Each year the Foundation helps on average 1,000 students through the Barriers Fund. This fund is driven by the approach of “what can be done to keep a student coming to school and staying in school?” The Foundation responds to requests for help with basic necessities such as clothing or food, to situations relating to extra-curricular fees to participate on a school team, work boots needed for a co-op placement or shelter issues like fires, teen homelessness or family breakups and domestic violence. With an estimated 10 per cent of Halton's population living below the poverty line, the Halton Learning Foundation estimates that 5,000 students in the school board are from families that struggle to meet basic necessities.
At a time when all organizations are required to work within tight budgets while facing growing needs, the Halton Learning Foundation also raises funds for a variety of projects and needs within the school board, that benefit 55,000 students. Musical instruments, physical education resources, literacy and math, environment projects, trades and technical equipment ““ the Foundation has purchased resources for every facet of a school and education.
“At the Foundation we work closely with the school board to identify and understand the inequity that takes place within schools and across the region. We work to address that inequality and level the playing field so that all students have the opportunities their peers have,” says Busby, who has 30 years experience as a teacher, 15 of those serving as a vice principal and principal.
Busby has been involved with the Halton Learning Foundation since its inception and has a passionate belief in the importance of public education. More than $2 million has been granted to benefit Halton students and schools. Going forward it is the Foundation's intention to raise $1 million a year.
“The amount of money schools raise differs greatly within Halton, which reinforces the need to bring equal opportunity throughout the school board,” Busby continues, “the schools who need the most financial assistance are the ones whose family communities have the least ability to give.”
Halton Learning Foundation will host their ninth annual fundraiser “Do You Believe in Magic?” on November 1 at the Oakville Conference Centre. For more information visit haltonlearningfoundation.ca