Stepping Up and Succeeding During a Pandemic

This year, Alberta faced the perfect storm with a struggling economy which was further impacted by a pandemic. With so many changes and challenges, we faced a great deal of uncertainty about the best ways to deliver our programs. In March, schools were shut down and classes closed but we knew for certain our programs were still needed and in demand.

“As a small charity we were able to adapt our delivery methods to navigate the new COVID environment,” explains Barb Simic, President and CEO of The Educational Partnership Foundation (TEPF).   “While 2020 has been challenging we successfully continued to help students read more, develop our trades programs, host a successful virtual fundraiser and, with the help of our generous donors, serve 740,000 students in Alberta.”

Our Reading… Give it a Shot! literacy program is normally delivered directly to schools, but we knew that our students would still need a reading motivator, maybe even more so while being home schooled. We actually had teachers and parents inquiring about how they could still utilize the Reading… Give it a Shot! program. We responded by making changes to the way program would be delivered so that both parents, teachers and hubs could use the literacy trading cards.  We also realized there was a need for home learning resources, so we responded by compiling e-learning links for educators to access in one easy location.

During this school year we identified schools in the Calgary area that might benefit from our reading program and sent the Calgary Flames collector cards out to those schools.  During lock down, we also partnered with Calgary Reads and the Owen Hart Foundation to include the Reading… Give it a Shot! trading cards in backpacks that went out to 1500 local children. Overall, more than 35,000 students used this program in 2020 to elevate their reading levels.

Early in the year we had received and approved 17 Environmental Actions grant applications. When schools closed in March, we unfortunately had to suspend this program. Since the launch of Environmental Actions, we have funded 66 schools across Alberta with $1000 each to use for their student-led initiatives.

Our Trades Careers program has successfully completed its third year of providing students with a career path in a trade profession. We had students enrolled in Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge however these were cut short due to the pandemic. We also postponed the Culinary Arts program with Teatro Group in Calgary until next year.

“For the first time, we provided the Trades Careers on a First Nations reserve at Piikani Nation,” adds Terrence Patrick, Program Director, Trades Careers. “This course gave 18 adults from Brocket Alberta training in Pipetrades, Ironworking and Carpentry. All students successfully competed the program.”

In the new year we will continue our regular Trades Careers programs in Calgary, Edmonton, and the Piikani Nation, while incorporating potential additions of new trades partnerships with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Insulators & Asbestos Workers Local 110 and Teatro Group. In addition, we are in discussions to expand to Innisfail, Edson and other locations throughout Alberta.

We also knew we had to be very creative to host a fundraiser during a pandemic. We couldn’t hold our golf tournament, so we came up with some new ideas and a variety of virtual ways to participate. This included golf and restaurant packages as well as an on-line auction tied to our virtual event, the Legends for Learners Fireside Chat and Party held on September 21, 2020. We had a great line up of “Legends,” Canadian Football League, National Football League players, National Hockey League Alumni and Olympians. We also had interactive questions and contests so attendees could win prizes.  With the help of all our amazing attendees, donors and sponsors we were able to raise $85,000!

In summary Barb says, “While facing the challenges of 2020 our team not only worked diligently but spared no effort in implementing cost cutting measures and seeking new ways to fundraise. We not only kept operational costs in check, but we secured new funders. In fact, TEPF is ending the year in a good financial position.”

We are very grateful to successfully wrap up 2020 with eyes on a solid 2021.  Our donors and sponsors went above and beyond by stepping up and continuing to support us. We are so grateful for our committed partnerships and our Board members. They are the true champions for education, and we could not serve students in Alberta without their continued support and dedication.

Facts and Figures

2019/20 Reading Give it a Shot! program was used by 35,503 students.

852,072 cards were collected by students in 2019/20

Over 740,000 students have used the Reading… Give it a Shot! program over the last 24 years

Over 18 Million Reading… Give it a Shot! cards have been collected by students since 1994

66 Environmental Actions Grants

Trades Careers Locations: Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Piikani Nation

Trades Training: Carpentry, Culinary, Ironworking, Pipefitting, Millwrights

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