“The concept of a profession carries with it the idea of service to the public.” —James C. Hickman, ACAS, FSA, MAAA
The Actuarial Foundation brings Hickman’s words to life on a daily basis by providing programs and resources to improve math and financial knowledge for all. The giving spirit of actuaries is what makes the profession great and makes the work of The Actuarial Foundation possible. Whether it’s donating, serving on a committee, reviewing programs or mentoring, the Foundation has been able to consistently count on actuaries to make a difference in our communities.
Actuaries can also be counted on to mobilize and help when there is a natural disaster, as demonstrated through Rebuild Math Classrooms, a Foundation initiative that has helped numerous schools affected by natural disasters over the years by providing funds to replace damaged or destroyed math resources. The Rebuild program was originally established in 2005 in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Since then, over $300,000 has been raised to replace and restore math materials in classrooms all over the country. Most recently, Rebuild was reinstated to assist schools affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. The money raised will be distributed equally to the Houston Independent School Foundation, the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations (CFEF) and the Foundation for Puerto Rico. Each of these organizations has committed to distributing Rebuild funds to schools in need.
CFEF President Mary Chance says they have seen an increase in student population with over 10,000 new students relocating and enrolling in Florida public schools in central and south Florida from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as a result of Hurricane Maria. This is the area of Florida with the biggest need, with 16 school districts affected. Many schools suffered water damage. One school burned to the ground because of a power surge. Schools that were left standing after the storm became hubs for evacuated families, including pets! Hundreds of schools were quickly converted to emergency shelters with school leaders and staff hosting evacuees for the duration of the storm. One returning teacher commented that it looked like a stampede had been through her classroom.
Many displaced students arrived in Florida by ship or plane with only the clothes on their backs. Several local education and teacher resource stores in affected areas, many of which are operated by foundations, have seen a dramatic increase in personal hygiene items and other basic needs to assist these students and their families. These teacher resource stores offer items ranging from hygiene products and backpacks to the school supplies students need to be successful. Mary Chance says there is a waiting list for expensive calculators for high-level math. “If these kids impacted by natural disasters have limited family resources, this shouldn’t be a barrier to their access to the resources to achieve in high-level math classrooms,” Says Chance.
The Rebuild Math Classrooms effort gives actuaries a chance to help communities affected by natural disasters in a meaningful, immediate way. Providing the high-level calculators for the students in Florida reflects the giving spirit of actuaries — seizing the opportunity to do something special in a way that reflects actuarial capabilities and the benefits of being a member of the actuarial profession. We can’t predict every natural disaster, but as the Rebuild Math Classrooms effort demonstrates, we can depend on actuaries to make a difference when it matters.
Holly Monahan is the marketing and communications specialist for The Actuarial Foundation.