Foundation for Edmonds School District receives grant for new program

By Nolan DeGarlais, News Editor

The Foundation for the Edmonds School District, which raises and distributes funds to support student learning in the Edmonds School District (ESD), received a $75,000 grant from the Whitehorse Foundation over the summer. The grant was announced on Monday, Jul. 16, 2018 with the intended purpose of funding the Foundation for the Edmonds School District’s new Whole Families, Whole Communities (WFWC) program.

The Foundation created the WFWC program in response to growing numbers of ESD students living in poverty. Of 21,600 ESD students in 2017, 37 percent qualified for the federal Free and Reduced Meal program and approximately 1,060 were found to qualify as homeless.

The program was launched specifically to combat the problems that students living in poverty face that can interfere with their ability to succeed in the classroom. In a statement detailing the new program, Foundation Operations Manager Lorna Wheaton emphasized the unique struggles faced by the students in need that the program was created to assist.

“Children faced with obstacles at home such as hunger, homelessness, financial uncertainty or violence may be less healthy, physically and emotionally, and often struggle with focus,” Wheaton said.

The purpose of the WFWC program is to help improve the financial stability of low-income families living in the ESD while also strengthening and providing greater access to homelessness prevention resources. Ultimately, the Foundation hopes the program will result in improvements in student quality of life in addition to higher levels of long-term academic success.

The WFWC program is partnered with the ESD, Edmonds Community College, the Latino Education Training Institute, North Sound Church, Nourishing Network, Edmonds Family Medicine, HomeStreet bank, Wells Fargo and the School of Nursing at the University of Washington Bothell.

College Place Elementary School served as the pilot location for the WFWC program during the spring of the 2017-2018 school year. The Foundation plans to roll out the program across the district beginning during the fall of the 2018-2019 school year.

“This program can affect real change in our students’ lives,” Foundation Executive Director Deb Anderson said. “Our mission is to partner with the District in support of student learning, and to maximize the personal, creative and academic potential so that each student is career and college ready.”

The Whitehorse Foundation was founded in 1990 to act as a supporting organization for the Seattle Foundation. Organizations throughout Snohomish County can apply for grants from the Whitehorse Foundation, which are then considered and selectively approved by the board of trustees. Grants that are accepted, such as the $75,000 grant to the WFWC program, are selected because the board of trustees believes they fulfill the Whitehorse Foundation’s purpose of improving the quality of life for residents of Snohomish County.

The board of trustees of the Whitehorse Foundation exclusively allocates grants to Snohomish County nonprofit organizations that need funding for project or operating support. The Whitehorse Foundation takes a particular interest in organizations early in their development that are able to lay out a sustainable and realistic funding plan.

The Seattle Foundation itself is a philanthropic organization that was founded in 1946 to improve standards of living and quality of life for individuals throughout the Seattle area. In its over 70 years of existence, the Seattle Foundation has donated over $1 billion to organizations in the Seattle area working to improve communities. Given the Seattle Foundation’s increasingly broad scope as the greater Seattle area continued to grow in size and population, the Whitehorse Foundation was set up as a sub-organization to provide a focus for the Seattle Foundation’s philanthropic efforts in Snohomish County.

The Foundation for the Edmonds School District is representative of the nonprofit organizations that the Whitehorse Foundation was created to fund. The Foundation for the Edmonds School District was founded in 1984 by former superintendent Hal Reasby to fill financial gaps in the ESD that could have a negative impact on its teachers and students.

Currently, the priorities of the Foundation are to create pathways for post-graduation college and career readiness, create opportunities for struggling students to succeed, and assist an ever-growing immigrant population to overcome cultural and financial issues that may serve as an obstacle to academic success. The Foundation also sponsors several events for students throughout the school year, such as the annual STEM Expo held at MTHS and the annual Edmonds Jazz Connection.

In addition to its support for K-12 students success, the Foundation also provides thousands of dollars in scholarships each year. Over $91,000 in scholarship money was given to graduating seniors of the class of 2017. Scholarships are offered to students who fill out applications for scholarships which are given based on need and merit and can be used for four-year universities, community college or vocational programs.

In addition to nonprofit grants and individual donations, the Foundation raises money by hosting fundraiser events throughout the year, such as the Celebrate Schools 5K run to be held on Oct. 6, 2018. The Foundation also partners with local businesses to raise money for ESD students throughout the year.