When we picked our theme for the 2019-2020 school year, little did we know our world, our country and our community would face a deadly pandemic beginning in the spring. Little did we know we would have to pivot our focus so quickly. Little did we know how many of our students would face challenges that none had experienced before. Little did we know how many superheroes live among us!
Overnight, schools shut down and on-line schooling began. We saw an immediate need for access to the internet, which hundreds of WPS students lacked. We worked quickly to link our families to the free resources in the community, but that didn't work for everyone. Some families needed hotspot devices to support their students' new mode of learning. The Foundation worked with the district's IT department and purchased over 200 devices at a hefty and unexpected price tag of over $35,000. The WPS Foundation and the Rose Community Foundation partnered to help cover the cost. By the end of March, every WPS student had access to the necessary technology to complete their school year online.
Many WPS families found themselves in difficult financial circumstances, making it difficult to provide food, essential household items and other basic needs for their families. The Foundation put out a call to action to the community, and the Superheroes flew into action!
Community members, foundations, corporations, alumni, WPS employees and nonprofit partners stepped up to help the Foundation help district families. We worked collaboratively to address the impact of COVID on our students.
As a result, 810,000 meals were served to our students from March to August. Community partners donated additional food items, so our families had enough food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, on the weekends. We are so grateful to the organizations that supported our emergency meal program, The Food Bank of the Rockies, Food for Thought, Food for Hope and We Don't Waste. The district culinary team were on the ground floor making sure our families had the meals they needed.
Over $36,000 worth of gift cards were given to our families most in need so they could buy cleaning supplies, personal items and other essential needs.
The crisis is not over, and we will continue to collect donations to support our families during the COVID-19 pandemic. But we wanted to let our generous community know how grateful we are.
Because of YOU, our students can SEE the good in our community. They know superheroes are real.
I wish you and your family members good health and safety.
Stephanie Baer, Executive Director