Each year, Sarasota County students face urgent needs that impact their ability and desire to learn and thrive.
These situations range from a pair of siblings who arrive on the first day of school without shoes, a student who doesn't have sufficient clothing during the winter, or a child without the proper reading glasses, all because their parents can't afford them.
Often times, teachers, bus drivers, counselors or other staff members reach into their own pockets to alleviate the urgent need or the need goes unmet. Social services assists when it can, but the need calls for immediate attention. Once the urgent need is met, social services can begin to address longer-term issues.
In the past decade Florida has seen a 36 percent increase in the number of students who qualify for a free or reduced lunch, and in Sarasota County, half of all students fall under this category.
In 2013 the Community Foundation of Sarasota County in partnership with The Patterson Foundation established the Student Emergency Fund to address the issues that impact a student's ability to learn. The fund provides last-resort, one-time funding for area students that pays for eyeglasses, shoes, asthma inhalers and other critical items that keep students in school and ready to learn.
Additionally, in order to ensure that future generations of students could receive the help they need in order to thrive in their school, The Patterson Foundation endowed the funds to ensure they would be there into perpetuity.
How to Receive Help
The Community Foundation works with school principals in all Sarasota County public and charter schools to ensure that funds are quickly and efficiently distributed to help children receive what they need to learn without distractions caused by their economic circumstances.