Helping students thrive

Schools in southwest Minnesota are filled with students eager to learn and excited for what comes next. Is it a field trip? Band instrument? Hot lunch? Snow pants for recess fort building? The list could go on and on of things that students in our schools NEED but what if a family does not have the financial means to provide necessary items? While some of these items seem awfully simple they can be a burden for the student to bear.

Ripple effect. The effects of simple things missing often begin affecting bigger things like academics, mental/behavioral health and physical health. What can we do to support our schools and students?

One way that United Way of Southwest Minnesota (UWSWMN) is addressing this need is by providing a Student Emergency Fund Grant. Each year schools have the opportunity to apply for this special grant. The simple application includes reporting the respective schools’ K-12 Free/Reduced lunch enrollment number. That number is then multiplied by $3.50 to determine the amount of the grant given to the school by UWSWMN.

Funds are to be used at the districts’ discretion to support their neediest students. The goal of the program is remove barriers that students face and allow them to focus on their academic goals and school experience.

Examples of use include the following:

Activity fees — FFA, Knowledge Bowl, academic field trips/conferences, after school program registration fees, Community Education registration fees and instrument repair.

Transportation — Community Transit bus tokens and mileage to/from Clarkfield for a student to receive dental care.

Hygiene/personal care — Winter clothing (snow pants, mittens, hats, boots), hygiene items and lice kits/combs.

Food — Unpaid milk or lunch accounts, groceries and gift cards to purchase groceries.

In addition to providing this grant, UWSWMN offers education based programming to all 25 public, private and charter schools in our service area. In 2018-19, UWSWMN invested $113,932 in local programs addressing education priorities. Visit the “School Resources” tab on our website (UnitedWaySWMN.org) and scroll down where you can find the UWSWMN Impact in your school district.