We've been busy the last month!
On behalf of the thousands of students, teachers and families served by Henrico Education Foundation (HEF), thank you for your continued support! These are confusing and uncertain times for all of us. But this doesn't mean the important work of the foundation and our public schools has stopped. Our services just look a little different during this time of uneasiness and uncertainty. Every decision we make is being guided by our long-standing commitment to strengthening public education and supporting our students and families in Henrico County. Here's what we're doing:
We have instituted remote work for our staff and are practicing social distancing in our daily activities. Although our physical doors may be locked, your support means the foundation’s important work will continue. While the recent changes to our programs has not been easy, our staff is up to the task and have been incredible at adapting. We have cancelled events, delayed scholarship deadlines, postponed the launch of our Innovative Classroom Grants, and paused programming. All while using creativity to fulfill our mission to strengthen public education by advancing innovative programs and initiatives designed to improve student achievement.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, schools are closed through the end of the academic year. While the closure helps to ensure the health and safety of students and teachers, it has led to great concerns for the most vulnerable children and families in the Henrico community. Henrico County Public School (HCPS) is on the frontlines providing assistance and administering programs created to support children and families living in poverty. The most significant support provided by our public schools is the federal food program that provides more than 45,000 free and reduced lunch meals every day to Henrico students. Our families rely on public schools for breakfast and lunch, and hundreds of children also receive dinner while participating in afterschool enrichment programs. With the school closure, HEF answered the call from the community to assist with ensuring students and families will continue to receive healthy meals by establishing the COVID Response Fund. This fund is supporting the HCPS Family Engagement staff in their outreach to assist families in need across our community.
HCPS currently has 823 families with McKinney-Vento status—the federal designation for homelessness—and this is increasing. An additional 473 families qualify for weekend food services. In total, 46% of HCPS students (more than 23,000) qualify for free or reduced lunch, a number nearly equivalent to the total enrollment of the Richmond City Public Schools. We believe the economic impact of the virus over several weeks or months will increase the needs of children and families. Find out more
HCPS has established fourteen sites in Henrico County where students can get "grab and go" packaged meals. Food distribution is open to all students and children age 18 and under, regardless of what school they attend.
HEF is raising additional funds to provide the flexibility needed to assist students and their families. The funds are being used to purchase supplemental food and supplies for families to take home over the weekend and as needed during the school closure period for coronavirus. These donations are designed to complement the distribution sites for student “grab and go” meals on weekdays. HEF, the HCPS Department of Family and Community Engagement, and HCPS Department of Equity and Diversity are using the funding to target purchases of the most-needed items — such as specific nonperishable foods, educational materials and devices to create home-internet Wi-Fi hot spots to support remote learning.
HEF is purchasing the most-needed items in bulk, including groceries and other supplies to support vulnerable families and those who are out of work because of coronavirus. While the nature of the crisis is large and constantly changing, our flexibility as an organization allows us to adapt to serve as many students and their families as possible. Find our more - HCPS Grab and Go Meals
How You Can Help
We know it's a lot to ask right now, but please support HEF by clicking the button below and giving to the annual fund.
Your donation will continue to provide the flexible funding needed during this crisis to feed families, purchase additional Wi-Fi hot spots and support teachers in providing remote learning opportunities for students. None of this would be possible without you and the continued support of our community. To donate and help support vulnerable Henrico families, click the button below:
We're Grateful to Have You as a Partner...
Please know that we are thinking of all of you during this difficult time and hoping that your family is staying healthy and safe. We are also grateful for those on the frontlines who are courageously fighting the virus. We look forward to seeing our students and HCPS staff back in the classroom again; in the meantime, we will continue our work supporting Henrico students and families in need in the hopes of making you proud.