Critical Needs for Teton School District #401 – $2,500
There’s no doubt that the Community Foundation’s Grant Committee was holding our mission statement, to elevate lives through the power of generosity, close at hand when they opted to fully fund the Education Foundation of Teton Valley’s grant to assist low-income students in our district with basic needs to help them succeed in school.
The median household income in Driggs is $44,565.00 which is nearly $11,000 below the national average, making the poverty rate in Driggs 20%. Nowhere does poverty hit harder than for children. In Teton School District 401, six out of seven of our schools are Title 1 – meaning that 40% of the student body receives free or reduced lunch. Many of our students’ families continue to struggle to provide basic necessities like housing and food. They are regularly faced with complex financial challenges – trying to increase income and reduce expenses, or choosing between rent and food versus other additional items.
The Education Foundation is the singular point of resources in Teton Valley equipped to address the obstacles to learning faced by these low-income students. These obstacles can make the difference between learning and falling behind their peers in school. According to the National Institute on Literacy, by age 12, over 80% of what’s learned has been visual. This same source states that 1 out of every 4 students require corrective eyeglasses. Through the support of the Community Foundation’s support, the Education Foundation can ensure that students are poised to succeed in school.
Every year the Education Foundation hosts a free hearing and vision screening in partnership with the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation. They screen all K-3, 7thand 11th grade students over the course of one week. For those students who fail the hearing or vision screening, they send a letter home notifying the parents and providing the option of receiving a free eye exam at Teton Valley Vision Clinic. Dr. Simmons donates the exam and the Education Foundation uses grant funds to pay for basic eyeglasses. The Foundation receives invoices for an average of 10 students at $155 per student for basic eyeglasses annually. In addition to this screening, they also remind counselors and teachers to reach out if a student needs an eye exam and indicates they cannot afford it. The teacher or counselor can send a voucher home with the student or provide it to parents. The Foundation is currently seeking similar arrangements with a local audiologist to address hearing needs.
The Education Foundation also collaborates with Subs for Santa, another local nonprofit who assists impoverished families, to ensure that students are properly equipped to enter school. Due to a lawsuit within the State of Idaho, public schools can no longer ask parents to pay for school supplies. The Education Foundation’s only avenue to help involves raising funds to cover the cost of backpacks for all K-12 students in need. Subs for Santa provides the quantity of students, by grade, that need backpacks. The Education Foundation purchases them and then give them to Subs for Santa to distribute. Last year, through funding from another Foundation, they were able to purchase approximately 70 backpacks for Subs for Santa for $725.
By providing necessary resources to impoverished children, we elevate their lives and ensure that they have equal opportunities to learn and grow with their peers. When students have the supplies they need to succeed, as well as look and feel their best, they can more readily blend with their peers and concentrate on the learning at hand.