“CK now ‘fits in’ with the other children. As one of five children living with a single disabled mother who lived with domestic violence and abuse, CK needed help. Her clothes were far too small; she was walking to school without a winter coat, boots, or even a hat. Her principal reported back to Halton Learning Foundation that CK delayed wearing any of the new clothing (except the winter coat) until after the holidays, so others would think that she had received them as gifts.” *
According to Lesley Mansfield, Executive Director of the Halton Learning Foundation (HLF), this is just one story of one child who needed, and received, necessary help. The HLF was established in 1998 as a not-for-profit corporation to initiate and provide support for the education-related programs, projects and services not provided via traditional funding sources. To date, over $3.75 million has been raised to support students in need and to aid in eliminating economic barriers to learning for students. “Eliminating economic barriers to learning for students, aiding with the engagement of students, and providing resource support for schools is the vital mission of Halton Learning Foundation,” says Mansfield.
HLF operates through three main areas of support: The Eliminating Barriers Fund, Engagement Funds, and Scholarships.
Breaking Down Barriers
There are many factors that affect a child’s performance in school, but the HLF strives to eliminate barriers through the Eliminating Barriers Fund. “When children lack the basics like proper clothing, school supplies, and food, it impacts their ability to learn and their ability to participate in school life,” explains Mansfield, adding that it’s a critical area of the foundation’s work. Over 1,000 children were assisted this year. The most requested items included food, clothing, school supplies, field trip fees and clothing for co-op placements.
It’s About Engagement
Immersing oneself in school goes beyond the books – opportunities for enriched learning are also important, and HLF’s Engagement Funds offer a vital source of funding. “When schools lack needed resources they turn to their local communities for assistance in fundraising,” says Mansfield. “The amount of money schools raise differs greatly within Halton, and we try to bring equal opportunity throughout the school board.” Schools who seek the most financial assistance are those where local communities have the least ability to give. Funds in this category (which include key areas of Arts and Music, Environment, Healthy Active Living and Technology) go towards teaching resources and equipment as well as funding educational programs and experiences for over 60,000 Halton District School Board students. “Every school in the system has been assisted through the Engagement Funds,” says Mansfield.
With the help of scholarship funding, students can do more than dream about attending university, college or an apprenticeship program. There are 19 HLF scholarships awarded annually: one at each high school in the Halton District School Board. “To date, another 25 scholarships have been established through HLF by individuals and corporations to help students pursue post-secondary and apprenticeship education,” says Mansfield. These scholarships range from awards for those pursuing specific fields of study to full apprenticeships.
Geographically, the foundation supports Halton District School Board students and schools in Acton, Georgetown, Milton, Oakville, and Burlington. Socioeconomically, HLF reaches across all of Halton, regardless of family means. With the help of donors and supporters, over 7,000 students have received basic necessities that have allowed them to cope, attend school, participate and engage socially. Mansfield says that every school in the system has received grants for resources with a total of $1.8M donated to date. “Success is measured one student at a time,” she says.
To find out more about the work of HLF or to make a donation, please visit www.haltonlearningfoundation.ca .
*The student’s identity has been changed for privacy.
by Becky Dumais