According to a recent needs assessment, the No. 1 gap for Eden Prairie families is access to transportation.
Responding to that assessment, Eden Prairie Schools’ Family Resource Program has developed the Access for Everyone Initiative to work toward filling the gaps for Eden Prairie families. The goal of the Access for Everyone Initiative is “to ensure that all people in EP have access to resources to promote stable families and the healthy development of children.”
Last spring, the Eden Prairie Community Foundation awarded a grant to aid in the expansion of the Access for Everyone Initiative. The funds were used to purchase bus passes and help provide materials for the mobile resource library.
The SouthWest Transit bus passes provided access to Eden Prairie Community Education classes, parent-teacher conferences, other school-sponsored events and services as well as social services from PROP and other agencies.
With the help of the Eden Prairie A.M. Rotary Club and the Eden Prairie Community Foundation, more than 389 rides have been provided since January, says Molly Patil, community engagement coordinator for Eden Prairie Schools Community Education.
The success of the Access for Everyone Initiative can be seen in the families it has impacted. One family helped through this program was a homeless mother and child staying in Eden Prairie. With the bus pass provided, the mother was able to access vital resources like PROP and The Prop Shop in addition to getting her child to school events.
Another parent who has been diagnosed with cancer was able to get to vital doctor appointments and the grocery store, as well as give her child with disabilities the opportunity to attend school activities, providing a semblance of normalcy in a time of family crisis.
According to Patil, the bus passes allow single-car families the chance to attend parent days at the preschool, parenting classes, and events with their kids that they would otherwise not be able to participate in. “It has been so nice to give something tangible for families in need,” says Patil. “Oftentimes we are directing them elsewhere, but now we can provide the help directly.”
In addition to the bus passes, Community Education has been able to bring important resources to those in need through their mobile resource library. This library includes information on nonprofit assistance, social-service programs, and government aid. The mobile resource library is brought to events where parents who need services are likely to attend.
The grant funding for the Access for Everyone Initiative couldn’t have been made possible without the support of Foundation donors. Through donor support, the Eden Prairie Community Foundation has been able to award nearly $2 million in grant funds since 1981. However, in a typical year the Foundation is able to fund only about one-half of the grant applications it receives.
So, thank you for your past support, and please continue to invest in the Foundation. It’s one of the best solutions for keeping Eden Prairie great.
(This blog post was written by the Foundation’s fall intern, Emily.)