$100K Donation Helps 4J Elementary Students Experiencing Trauma

Nov 20, 2020

A sign created at Camas Ridge Elementary School before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Credit Eugene Education Foundation

The Eugene Education Foundation recently received a $100,000 donation from a retired 4J educator. The funds will establish a program to help 4J students who have experienced severe trauma.

The local initiative known as Rosie’s Fund, will help students who are dealing with adverse childhood experiences. EEF Executive Director Dana Fleming said the fund is named in honor of one of the donor’s former students who needed assistance.

“They had at one time a student named Rosie whose circumstances, for confidentiality reasons, they would not share with me—but they were very, very distressed that they did not have the means at the time to help Rosie in the way that they thought she would benefit,” said Fleming. “And she was definitely someone who—with the funding we have now because of that generous donation—would be helped and her life would probably be made better.”

Fleming said the funding comes at the right time when it’s been difficult to help students experiencing trauma during remote learning. Students dealing with adverse experiences are more likely to act out or even miss school. And since the effects of the long-term pandemic are undetermined, it’s hard to tell just how many students are in need of support. 

“The donor and I met with some of the 4J staff who will be rolling out the intervention, and they already knew of students—just off the top of their head—who would be getting assistance,” said Fleming. “They also are interested in making sure that teachers understand how to recognize trauma, and how to access this fund to get help for their students.” 

Children who experience trauma may have behavioral or mental health challenges. These signs include irritability, depression, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, acting out, and other traumatic stress symptoms. And experiences such as severe neglect; psychological, physical, or sexual abuse; natural disasters; witnessing or experiencing family violence; or serious accidents—can impact a student’s ability to focus on their education. Which is why the district is hoping to help students from a young age.

“If we can get ahead of that now, the child will not only be a better student, they won’t act out in class and cause room-clears, which happens a lot when classes meet in-person,” said Fleming. “And that effects not only that child, but the entire classroom. They will not only be successful in school, but it will also safeguard them from having some of these adverse effects that are long-term, that will then end up costing us more down the road.”

Rosie's Fund will provide resources so 4J elementary schools can implement effective interventions.  The district and the EEF are planning how the funds will be used, which is expected to be administered in child-centric grants of $2,500. If someone sees a child showing signs of trauma, Fleming encourages people report it to the child’s teacher or mental health specialists.

Fleming said she is grateful for the donation, and hopes the community will continue to support the program.