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RCDSB announces Student Support Fund

By Ryan Paulsen, The Daily Observer

Ryan Paulsen / Daily Observer
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The Renfrew County District School Board is in the midst of setting up a new charitable foundation to offer a helping hand to local students who face barriers against their full participation in the education system. From left: RCDSB communications manager Jonathan Laderoute and SSF fundraising coordinator Mary Cahill.

Ryan Paulsen / Daily Observer
The Renfrew County District School Board is in the midst of setting up a new charitable foundation to offer a helping hand to local students who face barriers against their full participation in the education system. From left: RCDSB communications manager Jonathan Laderoute and SSF fundraising coordinator Mary Cahill.

The Renfrew County District School Board is taking steps to try to ensure that all of its students have barrier-free access to all aspects of education through a new in-house charitable foundation called the Student Support Fund.

"It's a way to address the barriers that children have due to financial constraints," explains fundraising coordinator Mary Cahill. "A lot of boards throughout Ontario have something like this, and we're getting on board. Basically, we're trying to reduce these barriers to education and help student fully engage in school life."

Benefactors of the fund will get help covering anything from a little extra food or clothing needs to extra-curricular activities or even fees associated with applications to college or university.

The SSF was a part of the board's latest strategic plan, and Cahill took on the role of fundraising coordinator in November of 2015. Three months later, Cahill's plan for the foundation's fundraising received final approval from the board's trustees and work began on the logistics and specifics of getting funding together for the launch of the fund, which will become accessible for the board's students beginning at the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

"We have a three-tiered fundraising plan. The kickoff event for the Student Support Fund is going to be a golf tournament at the end of June. It's going to be called Golf for Kids Day, and it's going to be at the Oaks of Cobden on June 29. That's kind of how we want to engage the community and get the message out there that this is something the board has taken on as a new initiative. Leading into the fall we're going to set-up an employee payroll withdrawal so that staff of the RCDSB have an opportunity to make a donation through a monthly deduction from their paycheque. Then, leading into the Christmas season, we're going to do a Teacher's Gift campaign. Not all parents, but some parents choose to purchase gifts to thank their teacher at Christmas and at the end of the school year. Now they'll have an opportunity to make a donation in their teacher's name to the Student Support Fund and then the funds go back to support the kids in their schools."

The process for getting access to the funds, once they're collected and the foundation is up and running, is designed to be as simple as possible from the students' perspectives. The paperwork is done by the classroom teacher, in communication with the student in question and their family, approved by the school principal and then sent on to the foundation for approval. Once applications are approved, a process Cahill is determined to keep as quick and streamlined as possible, a cheque will be issued from the foundation, often directly to the school in cases of extracurricular activities, trips or other school-related expenses.

"One thing we're being very careful about," notes Cahill, "is that we don't want anyone to feel singled out. If someone needs help, they'll get it, but in a quiet way that let's them just go and take part without being drawn attention to."

For more information on the Student Support Fund, or to apply to serve on its committee, visit the board website at www.rcdsb.on.ca, and find the Student Support Fund link under the "students" menu.

rpaulsen@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/PRyanPaulsen