March 12, 2021

A message from our President & CEO, Verónica Figoli

On March 13, 2020 I recall the adrenaline kicking in, connecting with DPS teams and leaders in our city and trying to figure out how the basic needs of our students and families would be met during the shutdown. Today I pause to reflect on the one-year mark of the pandemic. I grieve the loss of life, the impact on mental health and those who lost so much. I remember sending a note to my team that week saying, “Control what you can and let go of the rest.” Perhaps that has been the theme of what has led us through this transition. We will remember this year as one that defined us.

We learned to appreciate those things closer to us, that at times we took for granted. We were made painfully aware of the fact that a school district is not only a place for academics, but for many of our students it’s the life line to their success from basic needs to mental health.

With food security being an immediate concern during the shutdown, we supported the district in providing meals for families. The first week DPS started with eight food sites for families, and they ended with 24 food sites. To raise funds for the meals, we started with a couple of key anonymous donors who committed generously to the Food Security Fund without hesitation, and we ended up with nearly 2,200 Food Security Fund donors and more than 1.2 million meals delivered. And the work didn’t stop there. With this, all I want to do is sincerely say “thank you” for putting our students first.

We saw people coming together in ways we have never seen before:

·     Through philanthropic collaboration, we provided broadband internet access for nearly 300 families who had limited hotspot coverage in their areas.

·     Since July 2020, the Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Centers provided 391 emergency COVID supports, including critical rental support, food, and clothing items to a total of 190 families.

·     We brought joy to children by giving the gift of 500 educational materials to select elementary schools, thanking families for their resilience with the help of United and an anonymous donor.

·     We joined together for two Films for the Future virtual events, made possible thanks to sponsor support. Together, we shined the light on important issues: racism and the technology gap.

I continue to believe that no virus is stronger than our community. What we’ve accomplished together for our community proves that to be true. We still have a long way to go on this path to recovery, but what I do know is this: no tragedy is stronger than our community.