May 30, 2013 - Making a difference one full-day Kindergarten at a time

Amazing! Over 440 friends of the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation attended our fourth annual Ready for Life breakfast bright and early on May 30 at Harry Ainlay School. In total, approximately $250,000 (and still counting) was contributed by individuals, organizations and funding agencies to help us get children ready for learning as they start their public education journey.

100 per cent of the money raised at the breakfast went into our full-day Kindergarten piggybank to sustain the three programs we currently fund at Lauderdale, Mee-Yah-Noh and Tipaskan schools. But that’s not all!  Enough money was raised, which means  that a full-day program canbe established to benefit other socially vulnerable students in another elementary school during the 2013-14 school year.

Our invited guests showed up for breakfast, which was prepared by the students, and participated in the exciting program by blowing bubbles and making noise with clappers and shakers. The event was emceed by Grade 12 students from Harry Ainlay and kick-started by the school’s amazing XQ Clique popping dance group. Mid-way through the program, Grades 1 and 2 students from Tipaskan School sang two tunes that made hearts melt. Among the presentations, Principals Linda Speelman from Mee-Yah-Noh, Dorothy Arts from Lauderdale and Cheryl Belyea from Tipaskan announced their schools’ pay-it-forward contributions to the Foundation.

During the program, a guardian and her full-day Kindergartener made a lasting impression. Mayran shared her story about immigrating to Canada and the invaluable resources available to support newcomers. “I am so grateful for Edmonton’s outstanding public education,” expressed Mayran, while Jamila skipped around the stage blowing bubbles.  “Full-day Kindergarten is beneficial in so many ways – intellectually, emotionally and socially – and, most importantly, gives children time to learn through play!”  Laughter filled the gym when Mayran referred to her seven children as 7,000 kids and again when Jamila grabbed the microphone to put an end to the presentation by saying, “thank you very much for giving me full-day Kindergarten.” 

It costs approximately $100,000 to subsidize the other half-day of Kindergarten. Some of the contributors who made early bird commitments included generous Edmontonians,  the RBC Foundation (4th year contributor and our first corporate donor); Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (3rd year of 5-year commitment and gifted us with another $100,000 to fund an additional school site); and Kingsway Mall (focused on raising $100,000 by the end of December 2013 through $’s realized at a variety of special events and activities).

“We are so fortunate the community understands and values the importance of planting, cultivating and nurturing our little bean sprouts,” explained Foundation Director Sandra Woitas. “Every child deserves the best teachers, resources and learning opportunities to help them blossom as they transition into Grade 1 and get ready for life.”

The breakfast ended with flips, tumbles and cheers performed by the Harry Ainlay Titan Cheer Team.

Click here to view event pictures.
Click here to watch the inspirational video shown to guests at the breakfast.

   

May 24, 2012 – Community support will “ready” Kindergartners for success

The third annual Ready for Life breakfast brought together over 300 friends of the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation for a great cause - to raise money to support full-day Kindergarten programs for children who are at-risk academically and reside in socially vulnerable communities.

On May 24, invited guests met bright and early at 7:30 a.m. at Ross Shepherd School for breakfast, bubbles, laughter and outstanding entertainment. In total, approximately $375,000 was realized through generous contributions made by individuals, organizations and funding agencies.

"The research is solid! We know that the seeds of learning for little bean sprouts need to be cultivated early," exclaimed Foundation Director Sandra Woitas. "We also know it takes an entire community - people like you in the audience today - to help nurture and grow a thriving group of learners who are ready for life."

Even before the big day, the generosity of the Foundation's supporters was in full bloom. Some of the early bird contributors are the RBC Foundation (3rd year contributor and Foundation's first corporate donor); Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (2nd year of 5-year commitment); Anonymous donor (2nd year contributor); EPCOR (2nd year contributor); and The Bear 100.3 FM (2nd year contributor).

On average, it costs about $100,000 to subsidize a half day of Kindergarten. Because 100 per cent of the money raised at the event will go directly back into the classroom, the three full-day Kindergarten programs already established at Lauderdale, Mee-Yah-Noh and Tipaskan schools will be sustained for the 2012-13 school year.

The event was emceed by Grade 10 and 11 students from Ross Sheppard School. Early bird entertainment was provided by a Métis Fiddler who is a student at Prince Charles School; the program was kick-started by the Thunder Drum from Ross Sheppard School; and, mid-way through the program, Grades 1, 2 and 3 students from Youngstown School sang their little hearts out. Among the presentations, Principals Lil Rueck from Tipaskan School and Dorothy Arts from Lauderdale School announced their school's contribution to the Foundation via their pay-it-forward campaigns.

Lastly, many of the audience members shed a few tears during the compelling finale presentation made by a former student and ambassador of public education. Hana Marinkovic shared her heartwarming story about what her life was like growing up in a single-parent household and her family's struggle with her mother's mental health challenges.

"The most consistent support I had during my youth came from the incredible teachers in my life," she explained. "Having the increased capacity to support children in their early years means they have an opportunity to really grow, develop and shine."
Click here to view event pictures.

Guests also watched an inspiration video featuring various donors spending time teaching in the three Kindergarten classrooms.
Click here to watch the video.

   

May 12, 2011 – Foundation breakfast sows seeds of hope

More than 275 community members gathered at McNally School on May 12, eager to help kids get ready for learning, ready for growing and ready for life. In its second year, the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation hosted its annual fundraising breakfast, raising more than $200,000 for full-day Kindergarten programs in the city's most vulnerable neighbourhoods.

Like a garden in bloom, the Ready for Life Breakfast was a feast for the senses that planted seeds of hope. Director Sandra Woitas explains, "the Foundation is like the little engine that could - we've got to 'think-we-can' to make good things happen for our kids." As guests arrived, they re-connected with their inner child by blowing bubbles and meeting new friends, surrounded by umbrella trees fastened with student messages.

Like the traditional Aboriginal gardening practice, where planting corns, beans and squash together creates an environment that boosts growth, children thrive when they learn as a group. For this reason, part of the morning included a success story from a Tipaskan School student and parent. For many, listening to the young hearing-impaired student voice her love of learning proved their contributions were having an impact. Within a year, she had blossomed into an inquisitive young reader.

For RBC, achieving meaningful, long-term change through corporate giving is a priority. For a second year, RBC gifted the Foundation $50,000, causing a loud uproar of applause. "At RBC, we believe in investing in education is one of the most important things we can do because it helps build future community leaders," says Dave Majeski, RBC Vice-President Real Estate & Commercial Markets. "We are proud to support the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation and to help kids get the best start in life." Click here for a photo of Dave Majeski, Janet Mosier, RBC Relationship Account Manager, and Arbie, RBC Mascot, providing a cheque to Sandra Woitas.

Many other generous contributors also understand that it takes an entire community to educate a child. EPCOR gifted the Foundation $20,000 at the breakfast, for a total of $40,000 over the past year, and an anonymous donor provided a gift of $50,000. Additional early-bird donors included 100.3 The Bear Children's Fund, Edmonton Twestival, Kingsway Mall and Ms. San San Sy, one of the Foundation's Board of Governors.

As Woitas describes it, "if we give them the tools, kids have no limits to their potential." In the meantime, the Foundation is working to enhance education opportunities for students in vulnerable situations. "Showing - and telling - kids that we believe in them is important. That's why the Foundation is working to build and sustain the work we've started." The community's overwhelming response has shown that the Foundation's message is taking root.

Click here for pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/epsb/sets/72157626713114652/

Click here to view the inspirational video:

   

November 3, 2010 - funds used to open full-day Kindergarten at Tipaskan

At the September 14, 2010 Board meeting, the Board of Trustees approved using $125,000 of the $175,000 in donations realized by the District Foundation during 2009-10 to fund a full-day Kindergarten program at Tipaskan School during the 2010-11 school year.

To celebrate this occasion, the Foundation hosted a Mad Hatters Tea Party Wednesday, November 3 from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. at Tipaskan School, which was sponsored in part by Mac's Convenience Stores Inc. Adorned in hats made by students from Dr. Donald Massey School and Nellie McClung Program students from Oliver School, approximately 60 Foundation friends and about 20 other individuals, including students, parents and staff members from Tipaskan School, were in attendance.

The event was emceed by two students from Tipaskan School and included greetings from Board Chair Dave Colburn, Superintendent Edgar Schmidt and the Foundation’s Board of Governor’s Chair Louise Hayes. In addition, Foundation Director Sandra Woitas shared brief remarks and Principal Lil Rueck spoke about the impact the full-day Kindergarten program will have on students and announced that students are planning their own pay-it-forward fundraising campaign. The intent is the funds raised by the students this year will be gifted to the Foundation to put towards another full-day Kindergarten program in the future.

Immediately after the formal program, guests were taken on a tour of the school and the Kindergarten classroom to visit with the students and teacher, Meghan Loney. The event concluded with a tea party celebration in the gymnasium, which included food and beverages donated by Mac’s Convenience Stores Inc.

The Edmonton Examiner covered the event and posted an article that same day.

Shaw TV also interviewed Director Sandra Woitas, Principal Lil Rueck and Teacher Meghan Loney and videotaped the Kindergarten students. The interview can be view on Channel 10 starting Friday, November 12.

   

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