The collateral damage of COVID-19 can be measured in many ways. In 2020, the Peel Learning Foundation helped more than 1,400 students in need – twice as many as the year before. That trend continued in the first quarter of 2021.
The Foundation offers two programs. The Student Emergency Needs Program (more than 1,100 students served in 2020) offers material support like food and clothing, medical supplies, eyeglasses, transportation, as well as financial support for families in crisis. The Student Backpack Program (more than 300 students served last year) provides backpacks filled with school supplies.
Even before the pandemic, the need was urgent. In Peel Region, 1 in 5 students face barriers related to poverty that prevent them from fully participating in school. COVID-19 only accentuated challenges. Job losses, housing insecurity and health issues have all created a more precarious situation for many students and their caregivers.
“We’re fortunate that the Peel community continues to be generous in supporting our work so that we can provide immediate assistance to students experiencing hardships during this incredibly challenging time,” says Brian Hobbs, executive officer of the Peel Learning Foundation.
Since the start of the pandemic, Foundation staff continued to raise funds and respond to requests for students in need. Most support is provided via electronic gift cards that can be emailed directly to students and their caregivers.
Over the past year, the Foundation also distributed over $80,000 in funds on behalf of other charitable organizations that couldn’t operate normally because of the pandemic. “Peel Learning Foundation was pleased to be able to support these other charitable organizations who are facing unprecedented demand for services,” says Hobbs.
This year, the Foundation has provided a new form of support thanks to funds to purchase and distribute 150 refurbished Chromebooks. These have gone to students who lack the technology to support their online learning.
“Technology has become an ever more important part of 21st-century learning,” says Marsha Forbes, vice-principal at McCrimmon Middle School and a Peel Learning Foundation director. “We felt it was important to look at providing these tools for as many students as we can.”
To apply for support from the Peel Learning Foundation, people can contact any staff at their local Peel board school. All requests are submitted confidentially through the school’s principal or vice-principal.
The Peel Learning Foundation is a community-based, registered charitable organization that raises funds to enable Peel District School Board students to achieve personal excellence by providing resources that help them overcome barriers. To learn more or donate, visit www.PeelLearningFoundation.org.