WiSH Education Foundation Receives $100,000 Donation for Needed Programs

by | Jan 27, 2021 | Community

WiSH Executive Director Amy Daniels reached out to Mr. Steve Kim just to introduce him to WiSH and all that they do in our community. Incredibly receptive, he invited her to give him a call to tell him about their important programs and COVID response. 
“It’s critically important that everyone in our valley – and of course our potential funders – understand the makeup of the Hart District; the numbers clearly show a need for our many programs, none of them funded by state education funds,” Daniels said.
According to Daniels, the Hart District serves 22,400 students in grades 7-12 public schools in the SCV. While our area has the reputation for being quite affluent, in fact we have seven Title I schools, defined by high numbers of socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.  In the last available year of reporting, 2019, 30.8% of the student population was labeled socioeconomically disadvantaged, 6.7% were English language learners and nearly 400 were labeled as homeless. Since COVID, these numbers have risen dramatically, with families leaving their homes for lower cost alternatives or to share space with other families. Any child who needs to move out of his or her permanent home is considered homeless.  While WiSH is unable to quantify these students today, we know how high the number must be because of the number of requests for assistance that are coming in to WiSH and also by the numbers taking advantage of the district food programs.  WiSH is also addressing need for material goods such as clothing for students and using their connections as a foundation to ensure the needs are met.
While WiSH supports a wide variety of programs all year long that are not funded by tax dollars alone (state funding does NOT meet need), the foundation’s COVID response has made the clear the vital need for programs not have thought possible a year ago. The computer program, which previously anonymously identified underserved and disadvantaged kids in need without computers at home, changed immediately to address distance learning.  Working with the district technology department, this program, this program has now distributed over 11,500 chrome books to help students stay connected. Student wellness was important to WiSH before it became absolutely critical after the Saugus tragedy. The WiSH board became dedicated to funding wellness centers on campuses district wide, starting with the Saugus campus. They are currently funding their 11th center with plans for the remaining centers so students have a safe space and resources they need when they return to campus.  WiSH also raised funding to renovate the Saugus quad. The WiSH desk program, providing a small space to work for students in need, has served nearly 200 students already in only six distribution days; the program has plans to continue.  Deliveries are made by community volunteers. People can email WiSH at wish@hartdistrict.org to get on the delivery list. 
Ms. Daniels provided this information to Mr. Kim via email and received a call from him early the next day. Says Daniels, “He asked me what I needed, and I only mentioned our most pressing needs, which included funding for more student desks, wellness center funds and needs for special education. I also told him that in order to ensure program continuation, I furloughed myself in March and have been working since then as a volunteer. I didn’t want to take advantage; he’s asked for donations a lot and I didn’t want to over ask. What happened next was the biggest surprise of all.  He thanked me for all of the information and then told me he was sending me a check for $100,000 from his Steve Y. Kim Foundation.  Of course, I had to ask him to repeat that because I was sure I hadn’t heard him correctly!  He told me that sees that we are doing great work and addressing community need and he wants to support that.  His own foundation’s passions include homeless and disadvantaged kids, so these programs really had an impact on him.  His generosity was overwhelming.” 
She added that because Mr. Kim sees that WiSH has demonstrated how much they do for the community, he is being very gracious in allowing WiSH the flexibility to determine how and where the money will be spent to affect the greatest number of students. The money will be focused on those areas that are important to Mr. Kim; it will not be used on regular programming or operations.  For all of that, WiSH will continue to raise funding to continue benefitting students district wide. 
WiSH, of course, funds everything from library books to new microscopes, defibrillators to student athlete concussion software, literacy programs and calculators to art and music supplies – and much, much more.  In fact, every student in the Hart District since 2012 has benefitted from WiSH funding. WiSH gets no outside funding and supports only programs in the Hart District. Mr. Kim specifically requested that WiSH, while sharing the good news about the donation, focus the news on WiSH programs and who they serve, rather than on him and his foundation. He felt that our community should be made aware, as well. Finally, Daniels added, “We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of Mr. Kim on behalf of his foundation.  It’s a game changer for our students in need.” We encourage people who are in a position to support our community to go to www.wishscv.org to find out more and donate.

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