How Students Can Help Provide Education

By Ella DeMay

My name is Ella DeMay and I am a big fan of the Caneille Regional Development Fund. After having the opportunity to volunteer in the past, I joined the CRDF Board this fall as a Junior Board Member. Through this position, I will continue to support fundraising efforts and grow international awareness, particularly among students. Over the past years, I have come to understand that L’ecole de la Grace is a school run by quality educators and supported by driven individuals located in both Haiti and the US. On the American community end, the support team is made up of people who raise awareness, grow cross-cultural understanding, contribute through altruistic donations, and graciously volunteer their time. In the case of CRDF, helpers come in all ages and experience levels. My hope is to prove to students that they can make meaningful, global impact regardless of their age and location.

How Have Young People Helped CRDF in the Past?

The Caneille Regional Development Fund was started by Oliver Zornow, a high school senior. He identified the shortage of consistent, quality education in Caneille and realized he could help fulfill that need. Providing global support can seem ominous and out of reach, but through hard work and a supportive team, Oliver helped found a school in a community that would have otherwise continued to struggle with low-literacy rates and lack of opportunity.

The first fundraiser given to open the school was a craft fair organized by Oliver’s fellow students, Rebecca and Megan. By selling crafts at an Appleton elementary school, they laid the framework for children in Caneille to receive an education. Though CRDF has evolved since its founding in 2006, the organization still thrives on the support of students. CRDF is based in Appleton, WI, so students from Lawrence University, Neenah High School, Valley New School, and student groups from other states have organized fundraisers, volunteered at events, and participated in enriching cultural exchange. 

What started as a student’s school project became L’Ecole de la Grace, a school that has a huge impact on and is integrally supported by students in both Haiti and the US.

How Can Students Help?

1. Grow global awareness and understanding

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During past CRDF trips, board and community members facilitated a pen pal exchange between L’ecole de la Grace and students from Neenah, WI. This opportunity not only allowed foreign language practice–it fostered a new level of understanding between two groups that are geographically separate, but similar in many ways. Experiences like this letter exchange open new doors of understanding, help us students define future career goals, and bring clarity to what international aid is and how we can help.

Improving global awareness is an immeasurable goal. The lack of physical progress can be a challenge, but the merit of understanding is gradual and internal. To grow understanding in yourself and others, spend time discovering what CRDF does and learn about the challenges experienced by children and teenagers who live in different circumstances than you. Simply exposing your peers to CRDF influences thought and action. By gradually building a well-rounded perspective, we are all become better informed and more likely to realize the potential impact we can have on building positive solutions.

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Another way to help the Caneille Regional Development Fund is to organize or volunteer at a fundraiser. Student-organized events like Printing for Caneille have raised money by having low input costs (utilizing donated materials and volunteer helpers) and sharing art and education with the local community. By taking advantage of our own strengths, each of us can help CRDF and develop our own event planning and communication skills. 

If a smaller commitment is a better fit for you right now, keep an eye out for brat frys, pop up fundraisers, and other events where you can donate your time. For updates on events and fundraisers, go to our event page.

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To allow CRDF to run smoothly, there are numerous people working to set goals, measure progress, and plan for the future. In addition to this driven workforce, CRDF Core Members, one-time donors, and fundraising coordinators work to supply L’ecole de la Grace with adequate financial backing for supplies, space, teachers’ pay, and basic health operations for the community. Monetary donation is a great way to provide opportunity and education for students and plays a vital role in the wellness of Caneille’s community.

Giving financial donations can be impractical for some, but for others it can be a very easy way to strengthen L’ecole de la Grace. Students or families might consider donating a percentage of their yearly income, a portion of their birthday money, or using an app like Round Up. Alternative giving fairs, like the one at All Saints Episcopal Church on November 16th (10AM-3PM) and 17th (9AM-1PM), provide an opportunity to forego a physical holiday gift, and rather contribute to a cause in someone’s honor. Donors receive a card to give, showing the donation that was made to a specific nonprofit or cause. 

Simply sharing CRDF with your own friends and family is a great step towards understanding. Using your talents and time to create a fundraiser is also a powerful way to support the Caneille Regional Development Fund. Regardless of the type and scale of your contribution, your effort makes a difference to CRDF and the lives of students in Haiti.