Nearly one month ago, Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on Southwest Florida. Ian tied with several other storms as the 5th strongest hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous United States. The destruction Ian left behind is nothing short of catastrophic.
As the Education Foundation of Collier County – Champions For Learning – we are uniquely positioned to articulate the needs of our students and our educators. Through our assessment process, we learned that our educators are facing serious challenges with housing and transportation. We joined voices with the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations and have secured a $350,000 gift to assist Collier County educators. This gift is part of the $2 million gift that was made to six education foundations who are facing similar staffing challenges. Click HERE to learn more about this gift.
We learned that many students lost their school supplies during Ian. We quickly shared this need with our generous community and within a week, Champions For Learning delivered nearly 600 backpacks full of school supplies to Collier County schools.
The Champions For Learning office is a CAT 5 rated building equipped with a generator. In the days following Ian, we opened our fully functional office to our nonprofit partners to use as a communication center. They were able to use our power, internet, copier machine and simply sit in air conditioning. Many of our students and mentors have enjoyed and continue to enjoy our space as well. Many students have shared that it is nice for them to have a space where they can work on their college applications.
We remain committed to ensuring that our students’ basic needs are met while being ever so cognizant of their educational needs. We have played the roll of connector for our students whose families have sustained loss. We have helped our students and their families navigate various channels of assistance and quickly saw that each family’s circumstances were very different.
Our next step has been to focus on our students’ educational needs. We are keenly aware of the fact that Collier County schools are burdened with the basic needs management caused by the storm, and we are doing our best to be very supportive of those efforts. Our programs resumed the week after the storm. Our students are meeting with their mentors, they are meeting with their coaches, they are attending FASFA completion sessions, they are submitting college and scholarship applications. We need to do everything possible to ensure that they are on a path to college or career and not derailed due to the chaos caused by the storm. Please click HERE to support our student programs.
Champions For Learning cannot achieve our mission without our changemakers. They serve as mentors, coaches, ambassadors and committee members. We have dozens of committees that help us with classroom grant selections, student program selections, organizing our events and helping us select our Golden Apple teachers. Our changemakers are key in our sound financial management. We have heard from many of our changemakers that they can’t return to Naples due to damages sustained from the storm. We are still in need of changemakers willing to serve as mentors, coaches and ambassadors. If you are willing to give your time, please contact Kristin Peras, Vice President of Community Engagement and Collective Impact, at 239-643-4755 or KPeras@ChampionsForLearning.org.
Together, we will make a difference to our educators and students. Thank you for being a Champion For Learning! Thank you for believing that education is everything.
President & CEO, Champions For Learning