After an overwhelming year for families, the Northshore Schools Foundation raised $216,547 at the 25th annual All in for Kids event on Thursday, April 8.
The event featured first-hand testimonies from teachers and students detailing their experiences learning in a COVID-19 world. NSF Executive Director Carmin Dalziel hosted the fundraiser alongside King 5 News anchor Jake Whittenberg.
In an effort to reach the goal of $270,000, donations will continue to be accepted until April 23. These funds are needed to replenish reserves for the foundation, while also aiding many vital programs in the Northshore School District.
“The generosity of this community has set Northshore apart. And our ability to pivot and our ability to support our students,” NSD Superintendent Michelle Reid said. “Our staff has never worked harder, and honestly, I think our students have never worked harder, nor have our parents.”
Heather Erickson, removing barriers coordinator for the foundation, said families immediately went into crisis when the novel coronavirus hit in the spring of 2020. NSF was serving between seven and 10 families a month prior to COVID-19, she said. When the pandemic struck, seven to 10 families were being served every couple of hours. At one point, the foundation was helping over 100 families per week.
According to board president Anthony Moran, at the start of the pandemic, kids were suddenly stuck at home and daycare was no longer available. Students were not getting fed at school anymore and some families lacked strong enough connectivity for virtual classes, he added. In the first two weeks, he said, the foundation already had 70 requests for emergency help.
“This isn't over. This is middle,” he said. “We at least have another year that we're going to probably have extra draw. We need all of your help out there.”
Dalziel said roughly $308,000 went to Northshore families between April and September of last year. Although she has served as executive director of the foundation for over a decade, she admitted that it’s hard to know what to expect in the months ahead.There are a lot of $20 to $25 problems in the district, she added, and those challenges can easily be solved together.
Over the last year, the foundation has helped put $41,000 into classrooms for racial and educational justice. With 94 unique languages spoken in the school district, having educational material and books that reflect the diversity of all students is really important.
“We really want to open the schools of the future and not reopen the schools of the past, and that also is situated in our racial and educational justice initiatives,” Reid said. “One of the things we talk about a lot is that the pandemic didn't actually cause some of the issues we're dealing with, but it's really illuminated or shined a brighter light on issues that have been there for a very long time.”
Reid said the district is recommitting itself to addressing those issues and providing culturally responsive instruction materials through library books, music and artistic theatre.
“Not all learning happens within four walls of a school. I think we've found that learning spaces can be anywhere,” she said. “And that's something that we're going to continue to really imagine with our students and families.”
Educators at Kokanee, West Hill and Cottage Lake elementary schools shared some of the work being done with racial and educational justice programs as a result of the foundation.
“When students see themselves in books, they learn to value themselves,” said Suzanne Sterling, librarian at Cottage Lake Elementary.
Joel Fagundes, principal at Kokanee Elementary, said a grant from NSF allowed staff to begin diversifying the library. He said the school’s racial and educational justice team partnered with librarians to purchase books that kids could see themselves in.
West Hill Elementary librarian Stephanie Dunnewind said she could find just two books in the whole school district written in Portuguese for a student of hers who only spoke his home language. As a result, the foundation provided $2,500 to purchase books in 12 different languages.
“Definitely, we've seen a lot more diversity in our community. We know that language is such an important part of culture,” Dunnewind said. “This collection helps students feel like their language is valued because we have those books in the collection.”
Diversity and inclusion were once again acknowledged with performances of the South African freedom song “Siyahamba” and “Be the Change” by students from Hollywood Hills and East Ridge elementary schools.
To contribute more funds before April 23, visit northshoreschools foundation.kindful.com.
“I think everyone has worked so hard to get to this point,” Reid said. “And I just want to encourage all of us to stay disciplined as we go through these last few months. But it's been absolutely thrilling to see everybody coming back.