Renton community steps up for quality education | FOR GOOD FOR EVER

September is here, and so too is a new school year. More than 14,000 children will soon walk through the doors of a Renton elementary, middle or high school, hoping for the best education money can buy. Unfortunately, having enough money to provide that education or to support our students remains a challenge.

The good news is that with the improving economy, the Renton School District won’t have to cut its budget this coming year. But the budget is tight, and our students and teachers will still need help.

Fortunately, Renton is a supportive community.

In the eight-plus years that I’ve been with the Renton Community Foundation, we have made countless grants to the school district through various funds to help with everything from classroom supplies to special projects. For instance, RCF was instrumental in helping to launch the Friends of Renton Schools Fund, which has donated more than $800,000 in the last four years to the school district to support academic achievement, music enrichment and STEM programs.

Through our O.J. Harper Engineering Children’s Needs Fund, we have made grants to buy math calculators and math supplies for various classrooms, as well as support the Renton Teacher Academy.

Last year, the Randy Rockhill Student Instrumental Music Fund granted $14,000 to fix every musical instrument in every high school, guaranteeing that any student who wants to play an instrument can do so.

Through the Maxwell Fund for Children and Families, we helped to pay for a groundbreaking educational seminar for teachers and principals. The Joy Poff Fund for Education and Families helped fund a play at Cascade Elementary School.

And through our Circle of Giving Campaign, RCF annually donates thousands of dollars to individual teachers for specific projects, books or supplies.

But the community supports students in other ways.

Each year, Renton Rotary donates a dictionary to every third-grade student. For some, this is the first book they will ever own. Rotary also conducts Operation Warm, in which they donate new, warm coats to children in need.

Renton Kiwanis Clothes Bank provides clean clothes to low-income students at no cost so they can hold their heads up when they come to school and feel like they fit in. And the Renton Kiwanis Club holds an annual Christmas party for disadvantaged students.

Communities In Schools of Renton is a leading dropout-prevention program, which provides a community liaison in several Renton schools, along with mentors who help struggling students stay in school and succeed.

The Salvation Army of Renton provides weekend backpacks with food for hungry children.

Renton Area Youth & Family Services works within the Renton School District to provide one-on-one coaching, group support, and skill building opportunities for middle and high school youth.

Even the Evergreen City Ballet provides dance instruction at local elementary schools during gym class.

As a community, it’s critical that we support our school district and our students. Only then will we produce the next generation of innovative, compassionate, and productive adults.

How can you help?

It’s simple.

Make a cash donation to one of the Renton Community Foundation funds or local nonprofits mentioned above. Volunteer your time as a mentor with Communities In Schools of Renton, or as a reading buddy through the school district. Or lastly, just donate supplies (rulers, scissors, paper, glue sticks, colored pencils) directly to a school near you or through the Communities In Schools of Renton “School Supply Drive.”

Trust me, however you choose to help, your donation of time, talent or treasure won’t be wasted. You’ll see the results in the bright eyes of a child ready to graduate and embark on a successful future.

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