Karen Schaufeld had a big day Wednesday, and soon students at Sterling Elementary School might be having some big days, too.
At the annual meeting of 100WomenStrong, the charitable giving organization Schaufeld founded, she announced the launch of the $50,000 Community School Initiative, a plan to bring together private companies, government, and nonprofits to bring poorer students some basic support their well-off peers have.
“If we give these kids the same inputs that we give our other kids, their outcomes should not be any different,” Schaufeld said. “There shouldn’t be a gap in performance.”
The pilot program proposes to bring everything from basic dental and hearing checks to extracurricular enrichment and sports in to the school. She sees that eliminating a common problem in poor working families—when kids get out of school and go home, there’s nobody there to supervise, and the parents are too busy with work and too tight on money to drive kids to sports practices, hearing checkups, and other things their peers in school take for granted.
The idea, she said, is that if those services are offered at school after classes let out, the transportation will be solved, and the kids won’t spend hours after school unsupervised. She also hopes it will bring in more community and parental involvement.
If it seems like a lofty vision, Schaufeld is the woman for it—at that same meeting, she was presented with a resolution passed this year in the General Assembly recognizing 100WomenStrong’s more than $1 million in fundraising since it started issuing grants in 2009.
“I’ve known Karen for years and years and years, and I’ve thought that all of your work is really remarkable,” said Del. Kathleen Murphy (D-34), the bill’s chief patron. Loudoun Delegates John J. Bell (D-87), J. Randall Minchew (R-10) and Senators Barbara A. Favola (D-31) and Jennifer T. Wexton (D-33) also signed on to the bill, and Minchew, Favola and Wexton joined Murphy to present the resolution to Schaufeld at the meeting.
The organization announced $221,165 in grants to 14 organizations at the meeting, ranging from $33,750 to HealthWorks to help bring comprehensive dental health care to children and the elderly, to $2,000 to Loudoun Families for Children, which works with Child Protective Services to care for about 60 children affected by family issues.
The organization has done lots of good in schools before. In 2013, 100WomenStrong launched the Loudoun County Public Schools Backpack Coalition, a $100,000 matching challenge grant that in 2016 sent food home on the weekends with 974 needy students. That program developed efficiencies to feed a family of four all weekend for $5.
“This shows what can work when you have collective action,” Schaufeld said. She credited the good her organization has done to lots of small works by many people.
“No great change came all at once,” she said. “If you think of all the great things in history, it was never one person in one giant moment.”