At ApplyBoard, we believe that education is a right, not a privilege, for all people. With this mission in mind, ApplyBoard’s winter co-op students held a fundraiser throughout March to help support and enrich the education of Indigenous youth across Canada. For this project, we partnered with I Love First Peoples, a charity that strives to bridge Indigenous communities through practical projects that promote reconciliation and education.
Our fundraiser had two main focuses: friendship shoeboxes and letters. Our first goal was to contribute 100 friendship boxes, using money we would raise through a series of events and donations. The giftboxes were filled with fun and educational gifts to support Indigenous youth with their education and interests while fulfilling the communities’ specific needs.
Our second goal was to pair each box with a personal letter written by none other than ApplyBoardians themselves. The addition of notes to these friendship shoeboxes makes the gifts that much more meaningful.
To raise money and promote awareness of our initiative, we planned a company-wide potluck. We decided to host an adapted version of The Game of Life to simulate the many challenges Indigenous youth face regarding education.
Planning for the event was going according to plan until all ApplyBoard Canada staff transitioned to working remote-first in light of the current health crisis in mid-March. This new situation posed an obstacle to our fundraiser, as it forced us to cancel our planned in-person activities and brainstorm new ways to reach our goals and still contribute to this meaningful campaign.
Despite this setback, we eventually settled on the perfect event, allowing us to raise money and awareness from the comfort of our own homes ‒ a Kahoot! Quiz! With almost 50 participants and generous donations from across ApplyBoard staff, we were able to raise a total of $650, which was then matched by ApplyBoard, increasing our total to an astonishing $1,300!
With this money, we were able to purchase 26 friendship shoeboxes. While we didn’t quite meet our original goal, we considered this fundraiser a fantastic achievement nonetheless, especially considering the circumstances and challenges of our new work environments.
Looking to increase awareness across the organization and launch our fundraiser, we also hosted a virtual ‘Lunch and Learned’ with the founder of I Love First Peoples, Josée Lusignan, who called in as a guest speaker. Josée was an excellent addition to the event and shared some insights on the many difficulties and injustices. Indigenous communities face daily. For more information on the topic, take a look at the slideshow we put together.
Our letter campaign was also quite successful, with 23 beautifully written letters. Students cherish these letters as they help them build a connection with someone outside their community. Indigenous communities can be quite remote, so including a personally written letter with their shoebox gift is intended as a valid symbol of friendship.
This simple connection can be incredibly meaningful and supportive. Some letter writers even made this a family activity, writing letters with their kids. Our campaign turned out to be an excellent initiative, and we are deeply appreciative of everyone’s contributions. The impact these letters can have on young students’ lives is immense.
Once each letter is paired with a friendship shoebox, I Love First Peoples will be visiting Indigenous communities across Canada to give children these beautiful symbols of friendship and education personally. This wonderful organization not only delivers these educational gifts personally but more importantly, they also make a point to connect directly with members of these communities to assess where they need help. By doing this, they can tailor their campaigns to respond to the specific needs of each city they visit.
Many Indigenous leaders have shared the impact they see from I Love First Peoples’ work, as they witness Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups working together to put together these friendship gift boxes.
On behalf of the co-op students, we cannot thank everyone at ApplyBoard enough for participating, donating, and spreading the word! Through our initiative, we were able to expand the meaning behind “education for all.”
Written by Anne Tetreault, ApplyBoard Customer Experience Co-op