By Foundation for Edmonds School District | Press Release

Companies and foundations support Edmonds families during COVID-19, ensuring that every student in our district has the resources to learn, thrive, and contribute to our vibrant community.

Lynnwood, WA: With lead gifts from Verdant Health Commission and the Whitehorse Foundation, ten companies and foundations have joined the Foundation for Edmonds School District to support families in South Snohomish County who are experiencing job losses or financial need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shortly after the first confirmed U.S. case of COVID-19 hit Snohomish County in early 2020, the Foundation for Edmonds School District jumped into action to ensure that local families have the resources they need to survive job losses and economic hardship brought on by the pandemic. “Working alongside the District as their primary partner, having the systems and infrastructure in place to respond to our families’ growing needs has been incredibly fulfilling,” says Foundation Executive Director Deborah Brandi.

The Foundation was poised to lead a community-wide response to COVID-19 because of their successful Whole Families, Whole Communities program, which they launched in 2016 alongside the District and eight other business and nonprofit partners. The goal of Whole Families, Whole Communities is to help families overcome systemic obstacles to financial stability—and ultimately to close the academic opportunity gap for low-income children and children of color in the Edmonds School District. Support available through the program includes free meals, emergency financial aid, rental assistance, and career coaching.

The goals of Whole Families, Whole Communities are even more relevant now as COVID-19 contributes to soaring unemployment rates (20% in Snohomish County at last count) and nearly twice as many children (600 compared to 400) accessing the Foundation’s free daily meals compared to prior to the pandemic.

To help meet this increased community need, the Foundation has raised more than $230K in grants since March. Contributors have included: Verdant Health Commission, Whitehorse Foundation, Fred Meyer Foundation, Foundry10, Safeco Insurance Fund, Whole Foods Foundation, Walmart Foundation, Costco, Building Changes, and Global Medical.

With some of the necessary funding in place, Ms. Brandi and her team are committed to delivering expanded services throughout the duration of the pandemic, extended school closures, and economic instability. Through Whole Families, Whole Communities, families can access: free meals at several community sites throughout the region; rent negotiation assistance in partnership with VOA (Volunteers of America); emergency financial aid to cover expenses that keep families housed, healthy, and safe; career training and counseling in partnership with LETI; and in August, grade-appropriate school supplies and health screenings. 

Free meals are the cornerstone of the Foundation’s support for families. They typically distribute food to children when school is not in session—during summers, weekends, and holidays. With schools closed this spring to promote social distancing, the Foundation has pivoted to open up free meal sites 12 weeks ahead of its planned summer launch date and has made no-contact delivery and pick-up an option for local families. They have distributed more than 30,000 meals this year so far. With the exact duration of school closures unknown, the Foundation intends to continue meeting families’ basic needs as long as possible. On July 6, previously-planned Summer Meal Sites will open at Community Life Center, Meadowdale Community Church, Spruce Park, and YWCA of Lynnwood. Any child in need of a free meal may access the service Monday through Thursday, at varying times.

For more information about Whole Families, Whole Communities, the work of the Foundation for Edmonds School District, or to support community-wide COVID-19 response, please go to www.foundationesd.org.

Mario Lotmore

Mario Lotmore is originally from The Bahamas and for the last seven years has called Mukilteo, WA his home. Having lived in every region of the United States has exposed him to various cultures, people, and approaches to life. Lotmore created the Lynnwood Times to represent the character of a diverse and growing Lynnwood. The launching of the city’s free community newspaper will only help bring neighborhoods together. Lotmore was an industrial engineer by trade and proven success implementing and managing lean accountable processes and policies within his eighteen years of operations excellence, strategic development, and project management in the aerospace, manufacturing, and banking industries. Over his career he has saved and created hundreds of union and non-union jobs. Lotmore is the President of a Homeowner Association, an active Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics volunteer in his community, and former Boeing 747 Diversity Council leader. Mario’s talent is finding “that recipe” of shared destiny to effectively improve the quality of life for others.

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