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Last spring, the Education Foundation board of directors was planning the second annual Maroon & Gray Society Banquet, and turned to district administrators to learn about priority needs within individual schools and district-wide. During the previous year’s inaugural event, new uniforms for the Little Lions Marching Band had been identified as a need, and nearly $60,000 was raised toward that goal. In 2019, the district administrators identified student mental health as a priority need. Director of Student Services Jeanne Knouse presented compelling data showing how programs implemented by the district were working to improve student well-being, but there was more to do. The presentation resulted in creation of the Mental Health Matters Fund, a permanent fund that became the beneficiary of $50,000 raised at the 2019 banquet. The fund has helped to support professional development for faculty and staff; special events and projects organized by the My Mental Health Matters Club; and direct care for students whose insurance coverage runs out, or when services are not covered.

Fast forward to March 2020. As school closings were announced in Pennsylvania to combat the spread of COVID-19, Ms. Knouse and her team quickly saw a new need taking shape. Major financial hardship among many families in the district. Facing layoffs, job loss and the closing or scaling back of their businesses, families were struggling to afford the most basic necessities—food, utility payments, transportation costs and other unique needs. The district and the Education Foundation wasted no time announcing that the Mental Health Matters Fund was immediately open for contributions to help cover these emergency needs. The district used a needs assessment process to provide urgent support while the Education Foundation raised funds on its website. In just over a month, more than $100,000 was—and much of it distributed—to help families.

This incredible display of generosity has changed lives not only by filling basic needs, but also by showing that during uncertain times, our families can rely on one another for help.

The district continues to receive emergency requests for help from families. In addition, the student services staff anticipates a significant increase in the need for mental health services in 2020-21 while the district will face major budget strains in the coming years. In response, the Education Foundation has determined that all funds contributed through the end of its fiscal year on June 30 will be unrestricted and prioritized for these areas: emergency funds for families, mental health services and emerging priorities identified by the district.

On behalf of the Education Foundation and the district staff, thank you to all who generously supported the Mental Health Matters Fund to help their neighbors during such a difficult and uncertain time.

To give before the fiscal year ends on June 30, visit scasdfoundation.org.