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Saskatoon couple donate $2.5 million for one-on-one tutoring program improving children’s literacy

Pat Boot and Catherine Weenk (left), present SPSF representatives (from left to right) Zeba Ahmad and Stephanie Yong with a cheque for $2.25 million. Devon Latchuk/Global News

A Saskatoon couple and their family has collectively donated $2.5 million to help improve children’s literacy.

The announcement came Tuesday during celebrations downtown for Saskatoon’s first annual All in for Literacy Day.

The money is going toward the Saskatoon Public Schools Foundation’s (SPSF) “All In” program, providing one-on-one tutoring for grade 1 to 3 students from retired teachers.

Since starting in 2013, SPFS said the program has helped over 1,700 children improve their reading skills.

In 2013 the program worked with just over 80 children in nine Saskatoon schools; today it helps over 500 students in 38 schools.

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Pat Boot and Catherine Weenk made most of the donation. They said improving literacy helps kids get ahead in life and graduate from high school.

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“If kids don’t graduate from high school they tend to rely on social services or lead a life of crime for the rest of their life,” Boot said.

“We want to make sure every kid has the ability to reach their full potential by investing heavily in reading and supporting young learners we can allow them to reach that potential.”

Members of their family made an additional $50,000 donation, for a total gift of $2.5 million.

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The money is being used to match up to $5 million in donations to the program’s endowment.

“The ‘All In’ endowment will raise $5 million over the next five years to support literacy programs for struggling readers,” said SPSF board chair Stephanie Yong.

Nutrien Ltd. made a $150,000 donation to its yearly Food for Thought initiative with SPSF.

“It’s our belief that a healthy mind starts with a healthy meal and our goal is to provide students with that nutrition so they can reach their full learning potential,” said executive vice president Noralee Bradley.

The program provides 855,000 breakfasts, lunches and snacks for students across Saskatoon.

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