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Posted November 6, 2012

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Target Steps in to Save Endangered High-Quality, After-School Program

Thanks to the APS Education Foundation and its partnership with Target, Whittier Elementary's program for about 60 students continues this semester.

Watch a slideshow of students in La Esquelita program at Whittier ES.

Albuquerque Public Schools and the APS Education Foundation have many wonderful friends and partners both near and far, but Target’s willingness to step up and step in during the past year has been little short of breathtaking.

The latest example can be seen this fall at Whittier Elementary School, where a $25,000 Target grant continued an endangered high-quality after-school program for about 60 students.

“This program would not have started this year without the Target funds. That is the bottom line,” said Whittier Principal Cindy Bazner.

The program, called La Esquelita, had run out of money despite dogged efforts at creating alternative funding, Bazner said. For years, the program has provided literacy support and other activities, including planting and sustaining a garden, plus creating a school mural project.

Such programs are key at Whittier, which serves a highly mobile and economically challenged population in Albuquerque’s Southeast Heights.

Bazner said Target’s funding helped create a critical bridge that allowed La Esquelita to survive – and thrive – until a 21st Century grant could be obtained.

“This program is very popular with families and it is essential that it be offered at no cost,” Bazner said. “It is a huge support to this community. La Esquelita staff works closely with families to develop relationships that in turn help them to be more involved in the school and with their child. Through this program we have also been able to provide the FAST families program, which works with families to develop a healthy family unit atmosphere.”

"Target is very excited about the remarkable relationship we have built with Albuquerque Public Schools,” said Brian Fairhurst, a store team leader for Target. “This specific grant to Whittier Elementary was a grant that we created called Give With Target. The Give With Target program is part of our company's commitment to education. We will donate $5 million to schools across the country as part of our fall program.

“Target awarded $25,000 grants to 100 in-need schools just in time for the start of the school year,” Fairhurst continued. “The total donation will be $2.5 million for in-need schools. As a result of programs like this, Target is on track to give $1 billion for education by the end of 2015. Many of our leaders in Target, including myself and my family, have been part of Albuquerque Public Schools and continually want to positively impact the children."

Target’s commitment has extended into a variety of areas of APS. The company was a sponsor of the Foundation’s A is for Art! benefit art auction in September and Target also funded a $100,000 grant to Georgia O’Keeffe Elementary School through the “Ellen DeGeneris Show.” That’s in addition to a major grant to Valle Vista Elementary School through Target’s Heart of America Foundation and other supports local target scores have provided to schools and students throughout the district.

Target and its employees recently were recognized before the Albuquerque Board of Education, but APS Education Foundation Executive Director Phill Casaus said Target’s commitment to students is remarkable for its consistency.

“Target’s support is about more than a photo op or news release,” he said. “The people at Target have kids in our schools, so they are invested in success for APS in that way. But it’s their willingness to listen and pitch in to help schools like Whittier, Georgia O’Keeffe, Valle Vista and many others that really stands out. They are partners with us every day.”

 

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