The Redwood City Education Foundation is just days away from closing its fundraising campaign, which, according to the organization staff, would provide RCEF with the funding it needs to give underserved students the necessary resources for the upcoming school year.
The need to prepare students for the classroom is constant and vital to a child’s overall success, but oftentimes economic barriers, such as a parent’s inability to afford basic school supplies, can prevent a child from participating in their studies.
That’s according to RCEF’s Executive Director Sara Alexander and Associate Manager Florence Ortiz. The organization launched the campaign—Equipped for Success—earlier this year with the goal of raising $650,000.
Today, RCEF is just shy of its goal and hoping to hit that number before children return to school in August.
“I think more than anything, our families want the same things that any other parent would want, which is (for) their kids to excel in school, their kids to have all their basic needs met, to go to school ready to thrive rather than thinking of all the obstacles like not going to school, thinking ‘I'm hungry,’ like I'm not, you know, they're not going to be able to get to that second stage of success…,” Ortiz said.
The organization funds families whose children go to Hoover, Garfield and Taft, raising $200,000 each year for each school, said Alexander, adding that the principals tell them that schools are in need of much more funding.
The funds raised by this campaign will go to a variety of programs, such as providing full-time on-campus counselors in collaboration with One Life Consulting, College Advising Prep and literacy intervention. Students will also receive backpacks filled with school supplies needed for the school year, Alexander said.
For just $70, a student can get a backpack full of school supplies, said Alexander.
“We do all the heavy lifting,” she added.
About 36% of Redwood City’s more than 81,000 residents are Hispanic or Latino, according to information from the 2020 United States Census Bureau. However, the Redwood City School District’s boundaries extend to neighboring communities and include parts of Atherton, Menlo Park, San Carlos and Woodside, bringing the total residents within the school district borders to about roughly 102,000. This means that the RCSD community may encompass a larger percentage of the Hispanic or Latino population — 41%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The school district serves roughly 6,700 students across a dozen schools in the area.
RCEF programs serve roughly 1,600 students who attend three Redwood City School District campuses. About 93% of students the organization serves are low-income and about 93% identify as Latinx, according to the RCEF website. Another 62% are English language learners.
Hoover, Garfield and Taft are unique in that they don’t have a fundraising arm like other schools in the district, said Alexander.
“So the Foundation is filling in the important role,” Alexander said. “The other pieces of it are the high percentage of students are on free and reduced lunch as well as the high percentage of students that are English language learners. So really the Foundation is stepping in to fill those needs as identified by parents.”
Ortiz echoed Alexander adding that many schools that RCEF serves are primarily Spanish-speaking families.
“It’s super important for us to be in communication (with them)…,” Ortiz said.