Greendale - For 15 years, the Greendale Education Foundation has raised private money to support student programming and capital needs in the Greendale School District. Now the foundation has launched a program to provide direct help to students in need and their families.
"When I grew up, if I needed $10 for a field trip and my mom didn't have it, I didn't go," said foundation president Grant Johnson, describing the sort of situation the program, known as KidBoosters, might deal with. "It's a completely anonymous process. A teacher will inform the administration that there's a need, for example a kid who can't afford $20 for a field trip."
The program is the brainchild of former school superintendent William Hughes and former School Board member Judy Fons.
"Bill Hughes and I talked about this as a program for Greendale kids who can't advocate for themselves," Fons said. "Unfortunately there are more children in Greendale living in poverty, or near poverty, than ever before. We knew there were children who needed extra support."
According to the district's website, "up to 30 percent of Greendale children now live in poverty." The website states that assistance from KidBoosters will be made available to children and families eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches "at the discretion of the KidBoosters grant committee."
Hughes and Fons made initial donations to the fund, and Johnson said KidBoosters has already provided supermarket gift certificates for seven children after school guidance counselors made their needs known. The program is coordinated by Trish Kilpin, a social worker for the district.
"We will work with social workers and guidance counselors," Fons said. Both she and Johnson stressed the anonymity of the process.
"We wouldn't know who the kids are, nor would we want to know, and kids would be able to participate in important learning activities they might otherwise be excluded from," Johnson said. "We're just grateful to help them out."
Fons said KidBoosters also will direct families to other local assistance programs if appropriate.
"We will not finance school fees or sports fees," she said. The district website listed school supplies, books for the home, coats and shoes as examples of "simple but important things" the fund could provide help obtaining.
"This is kind of a work in progress," Fons said. She emphasized that the foundation, which has raised more than $280,000 to date, will continue its traditional mission. In the past, the foundation has supported a new sound system for the high school auditorium, student service-learning projects, and literacy and math programs.
Asked if the foundation had a goal for how much could be raised for KidBoosters, Johnson said: "As much as possible. If we could get as much as $10,000, that would be wonderful. Demographics in Greendale are changing, so there's more need for this kind of funding."
He said the goal of the fund is to "make kids feel part of the learning experience. We don't want anyone to feel excluded."
Fons said she welcomes donations and that the foundation may solicit local businesses in the future.
MAIL:Send a check to Greendale Education Foundation, 6801 Southway, Greendale, WI 53129, specifying "KidBoosters" on the memo line.