Members of each of the schools belonging to the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board (SWLSB) are constantly coming up with new ideas to improve the education of its children – whether it be through academic, cultural, athletic or artistic programs. The Sir Wilfrid Laurier Foundation (SWLF) is the non-profit organization that allows these essential programs to come to life by aiding in the organization and funding of them.

“Often, [many people] don’t know about us,” says Jennifer Maccarone, Chairperson of the SWLSB and member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. “There are so many worthy causes today that people can be supporting and we are one of those worthy causes because we directly impact the education of the children.”
Created in 2004, the SWLF raises money through the public, through local businesses and through different fundraising events in order to promote programs throughout the schools that will enhance the all-around education of its students.

“The Foundation is there to help the school board,” says Christian Fréchette, President of the SWLF. “One hundred per cent of the funds being raised are going back the school board and the schools.” Fréchette joined the Foundation in 2010 and became the President two years after that. Since then, the Foundation has evolved greatly – raising more funds in order to sustain an increase in programs.
“I think it’s rare that a project is refused,” says Maccarone. [The board] tries to make it as equitable as possible, they try to make it fair across the board while approving as many projects as possible because they are all great projects.”

Last year, several schools in the Laurentian region of Quebec came together to form a basketball league and decided to submit a request to the Foundation together. “This way the Foundation gave a certain amount of money, but it benefited even more students,” says Maxeen Jolin, administrative coordinator of the SWLF. “They work together, they know how to collaborate and come up with fun projects.”

Jolin, who has been working for the SWLF since the beginning, has seen the success of many projects, but also the improvement of the inner workings of the Foundation. For example, as the years went on it became evident that not every school had the same needs.
“We need to make sure that every part of the community is being covered,” says Fréchette. “That’s why the Foundation had to be there and still has to be there to sustain all the requests we have from this large territory.”

Despite the distinct needs that are seen from school to school, the SWLF awards a $500 bursary every year to one student in every school in order to help them further their education.Of course, none of the Foundation’s work would be possible without its efforts to raise funds. Every year, the SWLF hosts two major fundraising events – the Laurier Gala and the Lobster-Fest. The Laurier Gala recognizes the diverse accomplishments of over 200 students throughout the school board.

“It’s the only event we do that actually unites all three of our territories,” says Jolin. “It is 2000 people that come to this event—it’s huge.” This year’s SWLF Gala will be held at Embassy Plaza on January 26th, 2017.