Written by Alva Shewchuk,
Fund Development Associate
What I’ve learned in the last 10 years is that the sky’s the limit when it comes to the community who believes in investing in public education and in children’s futures!
It started at the Foundation’s Dreams Take Flight launch on February 10, 2010, which was an exhilarating day for all. More than 200 excited members of Edmonton’s diverse community converged on Highlands School to help us celebrate. And, a celebration it was! Everywhere you looked, students were showcasing the outstanding work happening in schools. The Highlands Cheer Team was performing stunts in the hallways, artwork was displayed everywhere and student greeters were taking guests to see classrooms in action and to meet community partners. A student emceed the celebration, which featured brilliant performances by students from the Virginia Park School Choir and the Lillian Osborne School Musical Theatre Group. Another highlight of the day was the introduction of the Foundation Board members and unveiling of our Foundation’s community-friendly logo.
The community became so engaged in helping us make dreams take flight that two months later, on May 20, 2010 we hosted our first Ready for Life Fundraising Breakfast at Jasper Place School. Incredibly, 250 plus people showed up bright and early for a one-hour student-lead program to make a commitment of time and money to support full-day Kindergarten programming at schools where students have the greatest need. That September, because of the generosity of individuals, corporations and funding agencies, a full-day Kindergarten was established at Tipaskan School. So, we had another party – a Mad Hatters Tea Party – where guests who came to commemorate that milestone were gifted with a theme-specific hat.
Whew! That first year was ridiculously busy, however things have not slowed down since. We’ve been working hard at making new friends and taking good care of the friends we have made along the way. And, although the economy has presented some challenges, the community is more supportive than ever. In the 2011-12 school year, full-day Kindergarten programs were implemented at Lauderdale and Mee-Yah-Noh schools and in 2013-14 three more programs were opened up at Beacon Heights, Calder and Princeton schools. Our kind friends and donors have been instrumental in helping us sustain the six full-day Kindergarten programs, and our amazing Foundation Board has set its sights high and is focused on opening another nine programs as soon as possible.