SASKATOON -- The Brownlee Family Foundation donated $10 million to the Saskatoon Pubic Schools Foundation’s (SPSF) Early Learning Equal Start program.

“The Saskatoon Public Schools Foundation is grateful to The Brownlee Family Foundation for its generosity in enabling SPSF to aspire to ensure all young learners have the opportunity to read at grade level by Grade 3,” SPSF executive director Zeba Ahmad said in a news release.

“The Brownlee Family’s commitment to supporting our work will undoubtedly change the lives of many students in Saskatoon and make Saskatchewan a more literate province. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts for this truly impactful gift. Together, we will make a difference.”

This donation makes up half of the $20 million fundraising goal and is the largest single donation the SPSF has ever received. It is the largest known gift to support education in Saskatchewan by a family foundation, SPSF says.

The campaign, which started Friday, will raise money above and beyond government funding for students needing support to reach key literacy milestones. Saskatchewan students rank among the lowest in reading compared to other provinces and every year 28 per cent of students in Saskatoon Public Schools have not achieved Grade 3 reading level by Grade 3.

Many students face challenges beyond their control, and it is incumbent on the community to support these students, the foundation says.

“Ina Lou, Ryan, Kara and Wayne, from The Brownlee Family Foundation, consider it a privilege to give back to our community and we are truly humbled to be in this position,” a statement from the foundation said.

“Of the many causes to support in this community, none is more important to us and none do we feel as passionate about as the Early Learning Equal Start campaign. This campaign will raise the hopes and opportunities of over 2,500 children in Saskatoon in just five short years to obtain essential literacy skills by the completion of their Grade 3, putting them on the path to complete high school and fully participate in the economic and social growth of Saskatoon and Saskatchewan.”