The Bismarck community has stepped up to help BPS students, families and teachers in need. The community rallied together this spring to raise over $17,000 for the COVID-19 BPS Family Assistance Fund. These funds are used to cover student and family expenses that BPS social workers have identified and been unable to fill through other community resources. With these funds the BPS Foundation has been able to assist in covering family utility bills and purchase more expensive, hard to find school supplies for students whose parents are unable to afford these additional expenses.
Prior to the start of school, Jesse Petersen, owner of Eide Ford/Chrysler reached out to BPS to see what they could do to help, which resulted in a $22,000 donation. This donation helped to establish a Teacher Mini-grant Program to assist our teachers with varying classroom needs. Funding was also used for many other needs within the district including special education training, Giving Hearts Day sponsorship, the Substitute Teacher of the Month program, and technology needs at Solheim Elementary School.
In addition, Starion Bank committed $8,250 for the purchase of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) within the BPS District to help keep BPS students and staff safe. The Drs. Connell-Jankoviak family also committed to a $7,000 donation. Their donation allowed for the establishment of the CV-19 Stay Save Activities mini-grant program which rewards BPS Activities (both Athletics and Fine Arts) that are showcasing a concerted effort and commitment to minimize the spread of CV-19 within their program. This donation also provided for mask purchases for underprivileged youth, as well as student hunger/lunch initiatives.
Bismarck Public Schools Foundation became aware of the fact that 700 students were struggling to pay for their school lunches, which is 5% of the total student population. BPS serves meals to all students regardless of their ability to pay, but many of these families are struggling and cannot afford to pay those meals back. Through the promotion and awareness of this need, BPSF has currently raised almost $7000 to help these students and their families. On August 31, 2020 USDA announced that students would receive free meals through the end of 2020 or as long as funding allows. Funds raised will go to help students who had a current debt first; any additional funds received will be held to be used for future student lunch debt needs.