For their efforts in promoting positive well-being and innovation within their school community, Bellwood Public School in Whitby was nominated and chosen to receive a $5,000 grant from State Farm Canada.
In 2015 The Desjardins Group purchased State Farm Canada. Since the purchase, Desjardins has set a five-year plan in motion. Part of this plan includes reaching out to grassroots organizations and giving back. “Desjardins wants to exclusively have local agents provide grant opportunities. It’s great for the community,” says State Farm agent Brent Calder.
Calder works out of his State Farm office on Taunton Road in Whitby. He has a strong connection to Bellwood PS and the surrounding community, as his wife has been a teacher there for over 10 years. Through previously established relationships with former Bellwood PS Principal Andrea Walters and current Vice-Principal Paul Khajuria, Calder knew they wanted to update certain parts of the school. When Calder heard about the Better Things Community Grants program, he reached out to Walters and Khajuria to encourage them to submit a proposal.
Creating an innovative space to leverage digital
The school has been looking forward to updating the library for a long time. Bellwood PS used funding from the Durham District School Board’s Matchbox to Ignite Innovation program to begin making their library a multi-purpose innovative space. “Overall, the impact of the changes we’ve made and plan to continue making, will change the usage of that space,” explains Khajuria. “When this opportunity came up to do a little more, we were very excited.”
The school community isn’t completely sure what they want to do with the $5,000, but Khajuria notes that they will use a portion of it to continue creating a functional meeting space in the library for students and the surrounding community. Bellwood PS is also used for School Community Council (SCC) meetings as well as being used by the YMCA for after school programs.
Desjardins received a total of 137 nominations for the Better Things Community Grants program. Bellwood PS was one of 20 community organizations in Ontario, Alberta, and New Brunswick to be chosen as a grant recipient.