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The Enrichment Fund is committed to public education

Lolita Malave / February 23, 2024

The Enrichment Fund for the Guilford County Schools. Chairperson Lolita Malave (center, left) presents a donation with fellow board members.

As a farm kid from Florida, I’ve seen firsthand what public education can do. My aunts and uncles found careers as teachers, and my mother found a life. She graduated from college, started as a third-grade teacher at the largest Black school in Hillsborough County near Tampa and retired as an elementary school principal 40 years later.

So, education is personal to me. Since my childhood chores of feeding chickens and mucking stalls before sunrise on my daddy’s farm, I’ve seen how education can change lives. I’ve also seen how it has changed lives right here in Guilford County.

That matters to us at The Enrichment Fund for the Guilford County Schools. We’re all volunteers, from all over the county, and we’re committed to public education and Guilford County Schools.

Our goal is to create a meaningful impact for as many students and teachers as possible.

We award scholarships, grants and awards to deserving students and teachers. We provide what I call the “extra cool stuff.” And that’s for every student, no matter their family’s income level. We want to create opportunities that will engage them and help them soar.

Last year, we funded a program that helped students explore forensic science. That was new for us, and we saw kids who were super interested in forensic science get excited about exploring something they’ve only seen on TV.

We’ve awarded scholarships so schools can create robotics teams. I’m not that techy, but that just sounds like fun. Kids get to tinker. Yet, think about the environment it creates. They get to learn and grow, mess up and recover. And that’s okay.

We’ve also helped kids see the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in their lives.

For years, the Enrichment Fund has helped kids go on field trips to the coast. Their families don’t have enough money, and teachers turn to us so their students can experience what it’s like to see the ocean and feel the sand beneath their feet.

All of us at Enrichment Fund are firm believers that great schools build great communities. As a Realtor in Guilford County for nearly 25 years, I understand the importance of that firsthand.

When families move into Guilford County, the No. 1 question I get is not about how the highways are or what do the parks look like. No, the first question I always get is, “How are your schools?”

I list for them all the school settings available here in Guilford County, from traditional to magnet to charter to private. I tell them about the journey of my daughter, Caitlin, from Pilot Elementary to Ragsdale High, and I assure them they will find a school that’ll help their child flourish.

“Just take the time to visit a school,” I say. “You will see magic happen.”

I do believe in that magic. I’m the fourth generation of a freed slave. He was a teenager when he walked at least 700 miles from a plantation in north Georgia to the west coast of Florida after the Civil War. He received a land grant and turned 250 acres of scrub oak into a farm.

I grew up on that land. My family lived in a humble little town known as Odessa, a town with a lot of lakes and no stoplight. Everyone had a john boat, every family rang a bell for dinner, and I got around everywhere on a Partridge Family bike with a pink banana seat.

When I was young, I’d sneak under the dining room table and listen to my parents and my aunts and uncles talk about the marches, their struggles and how an education can make you a better person who can change the world.

All of us at The Enrichment Fund for the Guilford County Schools believe magic can happen when kids from Guilford County can go to the coast, get involved with robotics, dive into forensic science — and so much more.

It reminds me of what my mother used to tell me and my older brother all the time: “People can take away a lot of things, but they can never take what you know, and education is what you know. If you have a drive to learn and grow, it will be with you forever.”

Lolita Malave is the chair of the Enrichment Fund for the Guilford County Schools. She is the branch leader/broker in charge for the Greensboro and Asheboro branches of Allen Tate Realtors.

Editor’s Note: This column is republished with permission from the News & Record.


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