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Reebok founder launches RaisingAMillion campaign to help schools meet increasingly basic needs

A Berkshire-based campaign is being launched by Reebok founder Joe Foster to help state schools meet increasingly basic needs – from school meals, pencils and books to sports equipment and hand sanitiser – after budgets dropped to 2010 levels in real terms.

Joe Foster, chairman of the Wokingham-based LetsLocalise – a digital and social innovation platform that brings schools and local communities closer – is giving his time, contacts and business skills to lead the #RaisingAMillion campaign to help one million schoolchildren across the UK.

Schools face a growing crisis of escalating costs and reduced funding due to rising inflation and some are even considering a three day week due to soaring energy bills and other costs.

The #RaisingAMillion campaign is calling on donations from individuals, communities and businesses in the county to help state schools meet their resourcing needs this year.

LetsLocalise has already supported 20 state schools across Berkshire since 2018 including Theale Green School, The Forest School (Winnersh), John Madejski Academy (Reading) and Thameside Primary School (Caversham) and this new campaign will help continue to provide key resources.

“While I came from a humble background and only started my formal education at ten because schools weren’t operating as normal in Bolton due to the second world war, I immediately valued my education – especially when I went to technical college at 13 to study engineering,” said Joe.

“This training was invaluable and enabled myself and my brother to set up our own shoemaking factory when I was just 23 years old and set me on the path as a business owner and founder of Reebok.

“The pandemic has unleashed an unprecedented crisis and triggered the biggest learning emergency in current times. We know Berkshire schools today are dealing with incredible challenges, from the pandemic to soaring costs.

“With LetsLocalise the #RaisingAMillion campaign will support state schools across the county and nationwide to help give schools and one million schoolchildren the resources they need to enhance their learning experience and transform their futures – just as I did.”

Funds raised from #RaisingAMillion will go straight towards state schools on LetsLocalise including the 20 it has already supported in Berkshire to bridge the gap that school underfunding and rising costs have created.

Funds will be allocated to resources across five categories, school meals, literacy, STEM education, music and sports.

Since it was founded in 2018, LetsLocalise has become a ‘digital village’ of schools, local communities and businesses working towards a collective goal of providing students with better resources and opportunities, along with transparency on where donated funds will go.

Businesses already working with the platform to supply financial donations, match-funding or direct resources include Legal & General, Cognizant, Verizon, the Ocado Group, L’Oreal and Three.

LetsLocalise founders Divya Garg and Gaurav Garg, said: “We’re seeing a growing crisis in state schools across Berkshire as headteachers and staff struggle to provide sufficient resources of even the most basic items due to real-term budget cuts and rocketing costs which is creating an influx in demand.

“Schools are already at risk of running a deficit with parts of their budget already overstretched – and the increase in energy costs means current budgets will struggle even further to cover this worrying, ever-rising expenditure.

“The obvious knock-on of a great share of budgets having to be spent on utilities is that state schools, who are already considerably underfunded and overstretched will now have even less budget available to spend on key educational resources.

“While we welcome the news announced by the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, of the new six month energy scheme for all non-domestic energy users including schools, the underfunding crisis runs much further and goes back decades.

“With a new Government in place, this presents a great opportunity to put schools top of their agenda and to give schools the much urgent financial support they need to try and head off this growing crisis.

“Our mission is to continue to work with schools nationwide so that while every headteacher is trying to sleep at night and facing these unprecedented challenges, money from #RaisingAMillion will be trickling into their school’s bank account so they can buy the essential resources they’ve requested when they wake up.”

LetsLocalise welcomes charity partners, corporate partners, individual supporters and Schools Alumni supporters from across Berkshire.

To make a donation from as little as a £1 or more visit the #RaisingAMillion page on LetsLocalise.