Edina Give and Go is an organization that provides resources and financial support to students in academics, arts, and athletics. The mission is to help students who are economically disadvantaged feel a part of the Edina community by collaborating with the Edina schools, social workers, teachers, and parents. This organization, which began in June 2013, holds special meaning to homeowner Dario Anselmo, who sits on the board, as he believes a strong public education system is the key to a good economy and a well-functioning democracy. We sat down with Edina Give and Go’s executive director Abby Hafner to discuss the goals of the program.
Many assume Edina is immune to poverty increases. What is the scope of poverty in Edina look like?
The Edina Public School (EPS) district reports that 8.7 percent or 740 students qualify for Free/ Reduced Price Lunch (FRL), which means their families of four have an income just under $45,000. Give and Go also helps families that do not qualify for FRL status, because some families may not have access to government programming or assistance, while other families fear being labeled.
How does your program work toward assisting these students?
We support individual students in two ways: by funding individual requests and through existing programming. We fund individual grant requests for needs pertaining to academics, the arts or athletics. We also work in partnership with other great community organizations—such as Edina Community Education, Edina Community Foundation, YMCA, Access Great Teachers, Edina Athletic Boosters Club and Edina Public Schools—to help fund existing programming.
Can you give an example of how one of these programs might help make a difference?
One of our flagship programs has been Summer is Go Time. During the 13 weeks of summer we want to make sure our students have the opportunity to avoid the Summer Slide (unequal access to summer learning opportunities increases the achievement gap between higher and lower income students). This summer we will be providing summer bike programs to middle school students, summer scholars to high schoolers, and a variety of summer camps to K-8 students. Not only does this keep the students engaged over the summer, but for some families this helps provide a safe place for their student.
How can people get more involved with Edina Give and Go? First and foremost, we ask that individuals help create awareness of Edina suburban poverty and need.
They can also support our mission by making a financial contribution or participate in our in-kind donation drives to collect band instruments, calculators, new sneakers, and/or school supplies. For more information, please visit edinagiveandgo.org.
The Junior League of St. Paul (JLSP) is an organization of more than 250 women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. We sat down with current SLSP president Jill Skogheim to discuss the league’s current issues.
Your members are always at the forefront of social reform. Currently, what are the most critical issues you address? We tackle the toughest and most critical issues of the day—including local childhood nutrition affecting the achievement gap, teen self-esteem, and human trafficking, among others. Our current focus is on the area of food insecurity and its impact on a child's ability to learn.
What new initiatives have you introduced to combat these issues? In 2015, we introduced Family Food Boxes in partnership with Dayton’s Bluff Rec Center in St. Paul, which provides curated food boxes for up to 100 families per month during the critical last week of the month when SNAP benefits and money begins to run low. In 2015-16 we have distributed more than 25,000 pounds of food to families in the Dayton's Bluff community.
Are there any new issues you’re looking to address in the community? The JLSP is in the research and investigation stage of Human Trafficking. It is estimated that 14,500 to 17,500 people, primarily women and children, are trafficked to the U.S. annually. This is a huge issue and JLSP is looking into how the members may effectively address this issue in St. Paul and surrounding area.
How can people get more involved with the JLSP? Women who value our mission can become members and work to improve the community, businesses can support the projects and events held by JLSP, everyone can participate in fundraising and awareness opportunities provided by JLSP. Women interested in learning more about JLSP can contact Membership@JLSP.org