We are proud to announce that the beneficiary for the 2018 Madison Ave. Soapbox Derby will be the Decatur Education Foundation’s (DEF) “Lighten the Load” initiative and City Schools of Decatur Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA). This is the first time in the event’s history that multiple nonprofit organizations will receive financial support in the same year to grow their impact on Decatur youths.
DEF and SEPTA both work with City Schools of Decatur to support student achievement. DEF’s “Lighten the Load” provides food, clothing and other resources to families of students living in need. SEPTA exists to serve families and educators of children receiving special education and gifted services in the district.
“We are so grateful to have been chosen as one of the beneficiaries for this year’s Derby,” said DEF director of community engagement Meagan Berardi. “While it’s easy to assume all of our kids arrive to school ready to learn, issues including food insecurity and lack of access to weather-appropriate clothing create barriers to learning. With support from the Madison Avenue Community Fund, DEF is in a unique position to strategically address the very real and complex needs of our students living in poverty.”
“We could not be more thrilled to work with the Madison Avenue Community Fund and advance our work supporting special education services in all City Schools of Decatur,” said SEPTA president Kara Campbell. “Every student with a disability is a general education student first, and special education is a service, not a place. With support from this event, we can continue our mission to celebrate students’ strengths and create stronger schools that embrace every student’s unique contributions.”
DEF and SEPTA will each use the funds raised from the 2018 event to grow their respective missions. DEF’s “Lighten the Load” initiative plans to proactively meet community needs by introducing new support programs, including organizing clothing closets and pantry snack drives tailored to each of the school system’s nine schools. SEPTA is looking to build its capacity by investing in teacher and parent training, assistive technology, scholarships and honorariums for Decatur High graduating special education seniors, and mentorship.