This year marks fourteen years of student emergency grant funding made available to schools in the United Way of Southwest Minnesota service area. Each spring all private, public and charter schools in our service area are invited to apply for a student emergency grant for the upcoming school year. More than $125,000.00 will have been distributed through this United Way of Southwest Minnesota initiative (to date) when the new school year starts. All twenty-one schools that applied this year received grant funds.

Those schools are: Dawson-Boyd, Fulda, Hendricks, Holy Redeemer (Marshall), Ivanhoe, Lake Benton, Lakeview (Cottonwood), Lynd, Marshall, Milroy (Public & Charter), Minneota, Murray County Central (Slayton), Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, St. Peter’s (Canby), St. Edward (Minneota), St Mary’s (Tracy), Tracy Area, True Light Christian School (Marshall), Westbrook Walnut Grove and Yellow Medicine East (Granite Falls).

Funding levels for each school are based upon the total number of students who are eligible for free and reduced lunches. Funds are for use by area schools to help meet unusual, unfunded basic needs of their neediest students. Grants for the 2017-18 school year were approved at the May United Way board of directors meeting and will be distributed to schools in early August.

Schools receiving funds make every effort to inform all school staff of the fund prior to the start of the school year, discuss what the fund can be used for and how it can be accessed. Each school has a point person(s) or task force responsible for oversight of the funds. The United Way of Southwest Minnesota wants to make sure that children have a good chance to further their education successfully and is proud to provide funds that can assist to reduce/eliminate barriers. Schools are required to provide a financial recap of prior year’s usage of funds when applying for the upcoming school year.

As one school representative shared “We appreciate that we have access to funding through United Way of Southwest Minnesota to enable students to be involved and feel connected to school. We don’t want financial difficulty to limit student’s involvement in activities or hinder school success. Providing students the opportunity to connect and be a part of things is invaluable. Thank you!” During the 2016-17 school year, examples of how some of the funds were used include items such as: activity/field trip/band fees, preschool tuition for homeless students, lice kits, bus tokens, space heater for family, underwear, clothing, socks & shoes, lunch assistance, hygiene items, emergency food support, eyeglasses and vision exams, winter apparel, specialized school supplies, etc., etc.

For more information or to make a contribution to this valuable program, please contact the United Way of Southwest Minnesota at 507-929-2273 or log on to www.UnitedWaySWMN.org.