BOW VALLEY – The Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation has provided $440,000 to the Canadian Rockies Public School division to cover school fees and pay for enhanced learning opportunities.
The donation covers a number of programs for the 2020-21 school year, including the Nature Explorers and Outdoor Learning Centre.
In the past, the foundation has funded athletic fees, but with COVID-19 affecting those programs in local schools, the foundation and the school division worked together to reallocate the funding to cover other extracurricular and activity fees.
“It’s been a challenging year across the Bow Valley, with many families struggling financially," said the foundation's executive director Cathy Geisler in a press release.
"It’s more important now than ever before, to ensure our kids have access to stay engaged with learning and the various activities that schools provide. But these do come with a cost. We’re happy to provide a touch of relief to families by offsetting the expense of these school activity fees."
The foundation also offered funds for the Banff and Canmore high school classes' graduation events. While there is some hope that restrictions will be lifted by June, the money will help the event's organizers get creative without having to conduct fundraising activities in the community.
“If they fall short of funds or need a little extra to ensure all grads are able to participate in the celebrations, however those may look come June, we feel this is another key area where we can help alleviate some stress,” Geisler said.
This school year's funding is an increase from the $360,000 provided in 2019-20. The additional funds will help with mental health and wellness in the schools. The foundation has provided $1.3 million to CRPS since 2013.
During a Jan. 27 board meeting, CRPS superintendent Chris MacPhee spoke about the flexibility of the foundation to allow the change in how the funding would be used during this school year.
"This is, again, a pretty big example of them recognizing the challenges some of our families are facing in the community and their generosity does not go unnoticed," MacPhee said. "It is pretty special we have this partner at the table."
MacPhee said the only fee remaining in CRPS schools is for lunch room supervisors, as that was not covered in this funding agreement.