For some families, sending their child to a private school can be a financial challenge, but the Calgary Academy Parents’ Association (CAPA) helps to ease this stress by providing bursary funds to families in need. CAPA has raised more than $5 million dollars in bursary funds over its history to help children attend Calgary Academy.
CAPA was established in 1986 by a CA parent, Marion Sutherland, when it became clear that some families required additional support to send their children to CA. Sutherland fostered a relationship with the Alberta Gaming Commission, now known as Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) to fundraise at casinos and bingos, and organized initiatives like bake sales and BBQs so that the school could begin to fundraise in ways that bring families together.
“The CAPA bursary has made all the difference in my daughter attending Calgary Academy. Since the moment we became part of the CAPA family, I have been eternally grateful. This bursary has been one of the biggest gifts we have ever received and continues to open doors for my daughter’s future that I didn’t think were possible. My daughter has found her place where she can learn and thrive and it’s all thanks to CAPA,” said CA parent, Michelle Thompson.
Without CAPA bursaries, many students wouldn’t be able to attend CA, and families may not have other options available to them.
“These parents are holding their breath while they wait to find out if they will receive a CAPA Bursary. When they get that call from me with, “yes, your family has received a bursary,” they often become emotional with excitement and relief. It’s the best conversation, it’s one of my favourite parts of my work,” said Natalie Kowalenko, Bursary Coordinator for CAPA.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent public health measures, CAPA’s primary fundraisers were put in jeopardy. CAPA overcame these challenges and transitioned to new initiatives like virtual 50/50 draws, cash calendars, and bottle collections. Despite the pandemic, CAPA contributed $97,000 to the 2020-2021 bursary fund and helped support 46 students attend Calgary Academy.
“Being able to give back to our CAPA family through volunteering, so others can experience the benefits CA has to offer is so rewarding. CAPA not only provides opportunities for our kids, but also for us as parents. The friendships, support, and common goal of helping other families is what makes CAPA successful,” said Leta Philp, CAPA member.
Families can apply for the bursary on the CAPA website. Bursary recipients are required to volunteer in a variety of ways, helping raise additional funding for the upcoming school year. Approximately 30-40 families apply each year, and the CAPA executive team is committed to ensuring that every eligible student with learning difficulties receives the necessary financial support to attend CA.
In the future, CAPA hopes to be able to support every qualified family in need. As CA enters its next 40 years of history, CAPA will continue to be instrumental in supporting students to access the education that they need.