The Education Foundation of Niagara, which helps local students, is receiving support this year from Niagara College students.
Now in its 23rd year, the college’s annual Many Hands Project partners event management students with a different local non-profit organization each year, to provide support with fundraising, marketing and public awareness of the chosen agency.
Choosing to support the Education Foundation gives Niagara College students an opportunity to help other students in the community. Funds raised from this year’s Many Hands Project events will help graduating high school students, who apply and are accepted at Niagara College, pursue their studies, through bursaries to students in need.
Christine Blane, coordinator of the event management program, calls the project “a showcase example of experiential learning.”
The students plan and execute three fundraisers, looking after everything from marketing, sponsorship, finding venues, the financial details, getting donations for prizes, and rounding up volunteers to help. They also enlist the help of students in several other Niagara College programs, so the project benefits a larger group than event management, she says.
But the “feel-good moment” of this particular project, she adds, was the students realizing they were helping young people much like themselves.
“This project is unique in that we hope to follow the journey and success of students while they’re here,” says Blane.
The college students are involved in the project from the beginning, including choosing the agency to be the recipient of their fundraising events.
Each year, they look at programs that help those in need — children, seniors, newcomers to the country — and they always have a hard time choosing. “They want to help them all,” says Blane. “But this year, this project touched them in a special way. They saw it as a chance to help other students do what they’re doing.”
Events will include a burger festival and a Las Vegas-themed night, both coming up in March, and a pop-culture trivia in April, says Laura Byers, executive director of the Education Foundation of Niagara.
Being the recipient of the Many Hands Project indicates the value Niagara College and its students see in the work of the education foundation, says Byers.
“Support from the Many Hands Project demonstrates true leadership, and is a powerful role model of students giving back. Students understand that investing in young students’ lives supports the success of future Niagara College students and the future prosperity of Niagara.”
The money raised through the upcoming events will fund bursaries for District School Board of Niagara high school graduates in need, for years to come, as determined by the college, says Byers.
Pathstone Mental Health was last year’s recipient of the event management students’ project, which raised $35,858 by hosting the series of fundraising events. Canadian Tire Bank, a long-time sponsor and supporter of the Many Hands Project, donated an additional $5,000.
“We’re hoping for something similar,” says Byers. “That would be amazing for us. A Niagara College Many Hands Bursary will help level the playing field for students by lowering barriers to post-secondary school education. And there is no greater resource than human potential.”
Byers spoke of the impact the project is expected to have on the foundation. “There is a widening gap between what we can afford to do and need to do, and as a result, the Many Hands Project support will ensure our students have access to all of the enriching opportunities a post-secondary education at Niagara College has to offer,” Byers says. “This is a model that will make a difference for those who need it the most.”
While the Niagara College partnership is aimed at providing bursaries, donations to the education foundation help students in other ways, including providing financial assistance for basic necessities, after-school activities, nutritional programs, and improving their over-all education experience.
It also provides a Swim to Survive program for all Grade 3 students, to teach them water and life-saving skills, says Byers.
And one of her favourites is the upcoming March Prom Project, which gives students a chance to shop for prom dresses, suits and new shoes, even giving out hair coupons so students can have that fairy-tale experience — all for free, through donations and sponsors.
“It’s amazing to see the look on the kids’ faces, when they leave with a dress and a brand new pair of shoes,” says Byers. This event is organized to help students from the DSBN and the Catholic board.
The Education Foundation of Niagara is a registered charity supporting DSBN students by engaging the community to provide funds and resources where government funding is not available, including student financial and medical needs and bursaries for qualified students requiring financial assistance. For more information visit efnniagara.dsbn.org/