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Collier County School District receives update on hurricane relief funding for faculty and staff

Posted at 11:12 PM, Feb 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-14 05:11:29-05

COLLIER CO., Fla. — Teachers and staff have been getting some much-needed relief after Hurricane Ian. The school board received an update tonight on the amount of help that has been provided for the district’s educators.

Help is coming in the form of funding and this is an update that is changing lives.

“They can begin to find new housing if they need, and they can find a way forward.” A way forward for teachers and staff in Collier County, as the school district provides relief funding after Hurricane Ian.

“177 of our employees received $1.2 million in support.” Millions of dollars help some of the district’s most crucial employees in a time of need.

“It’s a much bigger picture but this was enough to really help get them started down that path,” said Eileen Connolly-Keesler, President/CEO of the Collier Community Foundation.

Much of the funding went to helping support deductibles that staff had, as well as underwrite the increase in rent for up to a year.

"We have seen a lot of tears," said Barbara Evans, President & CEO of Champions For Learning. "Tears of joy and also tears of sorrow as people were refreshed of the trauma they experienced thru the storm.”

Evans is with the Champions For Learning. The education foundation played a key role in securing funding and helping teachers and school staff get back on their feet.

“The governor made a first-time gift ever to the education foundation in the state of Florida for $2 million, of which we received $350,000 of that.”

It also wasn’t enough. Champions For Learning was also able to secure additional funds with the Collier Community Foundation thru their Collier Comes Together Fund. Investing more than $587,000.

It also brought a follow-up response from the governor, who provided an additional $250,000. Providing more than $1 million to help district staff.

"It’s been incredibly gratifying and very humbling to have been a conduit for changing someone’s life,” said Evans.

Not only gratifying but also creates a blueprint for the district to be better equipped in case of a future event.

"Now it’s connecting them with the other resources that exist in hoping they can someday get back in their houses and get back to some normality in their lives," said Connolly-Keesler. "Time is going to heal that, I think.”