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New fund allows school principals to help take care of student and family basic needs

Renton Schools Foundation is partnering with Bob & Kerry Hodges to create the Principal’s Emergency Fund to continue support of students and families at six district elementary schools. The new fund will provide direct funding to principals at the six schools to meet urgent basic needs of students and families.

“Often principals, teachers, counselors, and other support staff are the first to identity that a student has unmet needs,” said Bob Hodges, who started the fund. “This fund will remove common barriers and allow students to focus on learning, maximizing their full potential.”

The new fund can be used by school principals at their discretion to support students and families, including clothing and shoes, public transportation or even minor repairs to a family’s personal vehicle, eyeglasses and prescription medication for students, fees for school extra-curricular programs, temporary housing for families, and more.

“After learning about this amazing new resource, principals expressed excitement, optimism and relief,” said Jessica Granger, Renton School District’s Chief of School Improvement. “They so appreciate the recognition that there are very real obstacles families face which could so quickly and easily be removed if the resources were immediately available. They are honored to be extended the trust and discretion to access a resource such as this in service of children and families having uninterrupted access to the valuable supports our schools provide.”

The Principal’s Emergency Fund is the creation of Bob & Kerry Hodges. Bob served as principal at Garfield Elementary in Olympia and saw first-hand how such funding could make a world of difference for students and families, and ultimately allow students to attend school with few barriers.

Bob, now retired, has great appreciation for the Renton School District as he grew up in the Skyway area of the district, attending Lakeridge Elementary, Dimmitt Middle School and graduating from Renton High School in 1971. Both of Bob’s parents worked in the Renton School District, and his father, Robert Hodges, was a district administrator mentored by Oliver Hazen, the namesake of Hazen High School and his mother, Betty Hodges, worked as a teacher.

Bob & Kerry provided initial funding of $10,000 for the new Principal’s Fund. That money has been matched by the Renton Schools Foundation to create a $20,000 initial investment. The six elementary schools will receive a per-student allocation based on the number of students qualifying for free & reduced meals.

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