REGINA — It was a banner week for Mother Teresa Middle School (MTMS), which received in total $1 million from the Mosaic Company.
The million dollars is in the form of a social impact bond — the first time such a mechanism has been used in a Canadian school. The potash mining company’s foundation will pay MTMS $200,000 a year for five years and if the school meets it graduation rates as set out by the Ministry of Education, the government of Saskatchewan will repay the company, including 1.3 per cent interest. If the graduation rate is less than 75 per cent, the company gets nothing. The advantage for the government is that there is no money up front and if the goal is met, it is estimated the government saves about $1.7 million in social costs over the lifetime of each graduate.
The money the school received from Mosaic is one of 10 awards the company has paid out to schools who competed in an Extreme School Makeover Challenge to improve student nutrition. Mosaic, The Saskatchewan School Boards Association and Breakfast for Learning program partnered in establishing the challenge in 2006 to encourage student nutrition and healthy lifestyles.
The $1 million donation was announced first at a Sept. 15 morning news conference at the school, then at an afternoon reception held for invited guests atop the roof of the company’s Regina headquarters in Hill Tower 3, downtown Regina.
“The challenge in this case is to improve education and employment outcomes for disadvantaged students,” said Bruce Bodine, Mosaic senior vice-president for Potash.
Paul Hill, CEO of the Hill group of companies, chair of the MTS board of directors and the driving force behind the establishment of MTMS in 2011, praised Mosaic for its commitment to the province.
Mother Teresa Middle School executive director Curtis Kleisinger said the $1 million would be used for the graduate support program. “We will help our graduate students bridge the gap between Grade 8 and Grade 12.
The Makeover Challenge grant was celebrated Friday morning at the school, first with a walk around the local neighbourhood followed by an invitation for guests to join the students for a nutritious breakfast. Sarah Fedorchuk, senior director of Public Affairs for Mosaic, said growing food is very important to the company and the company is very proud of the Extreme School Makeover Challenge program. Fedorchuk announced that the company is so pleased with the 2016 results it will support it again in 2017.
Representatives of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, Breakfast or Learning and the Regina Catholic School Division all spoke highly of the Challenge program and thanked the company for continuing it into 2017.