One of the most popular complaints customers have about retail today is that every store seems to have their hands out for a charity. It seems like every time you make a purchase these days, the person behind the cash register is asking you to donate to some cause you’ve never heard of or aren’t affected by. And that’s on top of what you’ve just spent on groceries or clothes or books and after the government has taken their hefty slice. And how often do you see results for that donation? How often do you see those dollars in action? Or the faces of people they benefit? Assuming that cause isn’t the subject of a scandalous headline or revealing news documentary down the road, do you ever even hear of it after fielding questions from some cashier?
Well, if you were in Gatineau (or a number of other communities) last week you may have seen thousands of young faces light up as Indigo (the company that owns and operates the various book chains including Chapters and Coles) donated 45,000 dollars to their library as part of their Love of Reading Foundation, a literacy promotion program that has donated over 19 million dollars to high need Canadian public schools over the past thirteen years.
Ecole Saint-Redempteur in Gatineau was one of 29 schools across Canada to benefit from Indigo’s Love of Reading Foundation. Redemteur (who has been unable to provide a traditional library for its students, relying instead on a few shelves of aging books in a handful of classrooms) received 45,000 dollars to provide new books for their students. Recipients of Indigo’s Love of Reading support can also take advantage of generous discounts offered by every store in the chain, allowing them to maximize every dollar invested.
But what if you know a local library in desperate need that didn’t win one of those twenty-nine grants this year? Don’t worry because Indigo’s support for public schools doesn’t end there.
Indigo is currently accepting applications from local high need schools for its annual Adopt-A-School program, In a nutshell, this program allows stores to provide support to one particular school in their community for a three week window every fall. While Indigo raises money for its national fund that benefits schools across Canada for most of the year (two of the 29 schools that received grants last week were in Iqaluit), the Adopt-a-School program allows stores to support a particular store in their community. Individual stores will be taking applications for the Adopt-a-School program until June 9th and will then spend the summer choosing a school to adopt.
The simple fact is that tax dollars just aren’t enough, especially when politicians at every level compete with each other to see who can offer voters the biggest tax cuts every time an election rolls around. And if they do honour those promised tax breaks, schools are often hit the hardest with extra curricular activities and libraries being the first two casualties on the chopping block. We’re already seeing the results of literary underfunding as a result.
In 2014, it was estimated that up to 30 percent of Grade 3 students lacked acceptable literacy skills and schools in poorer communities have it even worse. In 2012, it was estimated that teachers in Canada spent as much as 200 million of their own dollars for supplies for their classrooms and their students (to answer your next question, zero percent of that is tax deductible). The average school is currently only allotted enough funds to purchase one new book for every three students per year. A ripple effect is of deteriorating literacy levels among adults can now be seen.
At the end of the day, investing in children’s literacy now is an investment in the future.
Schools interested in applying for Indigo’s Adopt-A-School Program can learn more about it and apply here. The deadline for Adopt-A-School applications is June 9th. You can donate online to Indigo’s national fund as well.