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Wolfinger Family Fund supports school district needs in Ellicottville, Coudersport, Smethport

Fri, Mar 12th 2021 10:00 am

While school districts continue to adapt to a hybrid model of in-person and distance learning and work to meet the ever-changing education needs of students, the Wolfinger Family Fund at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation is making possible $2,000 in support for the Ellicottville, Smethport (PA) and Coudersport (PA) school districts.

Harold “Sandy” and Connie Wolfinger of Haskell Road established the Wolfinger Family Fund in 2019 to support educational programs, activities and/or equipment purchases at several school districts with an annual grant to each district every year. Their donor advised fund also will be supporting other charitable causes in the future.

The Wolfingers structured the fund with the intention of having a lasting impact for many students by supporting projects in the awarded districts rather than by making one-time awards to individual students.

These three school districts – Ellicottville, Smethport and Coudersport – all have ties to the Wolfinger family. Sandy and Connie’s children and grandchildren have attended each school.

A $1,000 grant to the Smethport School District will support the purchase of new, reusable smart notebooks for Smethport 4th graders and a CPR training project that was cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and school closures in 2020.

Rocketbook notebooks allow students to utilize handwriting rather than only typing for note-taking and homework, which has been proven to boost cognitive function and retention for students at a time when many students are facing the challenge of working both in the classroom and at home, according to Angela Lapp, a 4th grade teacher in the Smethport School District.

“My class of 20 students would all greatly benefit from the addition of Rocketbook to our everyday learning activities and assignments,” said Lapp. “Rocketbook would ultimately provide students with a traditional method of learning, while meeting the needs of technology today.”

$500 of the $1,000 grant for Smethport will support the purchase of the Rocketbook technology, the other $500, remaining from the fund’s allotted grant for 2020, will support the purchase of mannequins for CPR training for staff and students.

The $500 grant to the Coudersport district will support the purchase of two new iPads for the district’s STEM lab classroom. The iPads will also be utilized as part of the district’s live streaming and broadcast audio programs, both of which are student run according to Theresa Daniels, a Coudersport teacher.

The STEM/Smart lab serves students from grades 7-12, said Daniels.

According to Daniels, the STEM lab serves an important function for middle and high school students.

“We push our students to explore all that technology has to offer because our community, although rural, has an impressive network infrastructure that makes the potential for STEM-based jobs in the future a reality,” added Daniels.

The $500 grant at Ellicottville Central School will also be used to purchase iPads for student use in the district.

The district has seen an increase in demand for technology like iPads to enable more distance learning in the last year.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ellicottville Central School took on the goal to place at least one iPad in the house of each family that has elementary aged children attending school, requiring the purchase of approximately 175 iPads in addition to the district’s inventory, according to Ellicottville Superintendent Robert Miller.

The $500 grant from the Wolfinger Family Fund in 2020 supported the purchase of iPads as well. The Community Fund at CRCF also provided a $2,500 grant to fund the purchase of iPads in the district.

“It has been a year since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the reality is that school districts continue to face challenging circumstances to safely provide instruction to students,” said CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit. “It is a credit to the foresight of the Wolfingers that a fund like this exists to help close the gaps in needs for area schools. It is a critical time for educational institutions as they work to ensure that the students of today receive a quality education despite all of the challenges the pandemic has posed.”

Donations can be made to the Wolfinger Family Fund at CRCF, 301 North Union St., Suite 203, Olean, NY 14760, or online at cattfoundation.org.

Established in 1994, CRCF is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email [email protected], or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).