By Steve Koehler
Springfield businessman Doug Pitt and the Jolie-Pitt Foundation are partnering with Ozarks Technical Community College to bring the “Care to Learn” program to campus.
OTC is the first college to be a part of the program that will offer emergency financial help and other assistance to students or their dependents with hunger, health or hygiene needs.
Doug Pitt is the founder of the Care to Learn program and the foundation is headed by Pitt’s brother, Brad and his wife, Angelina Jolie.
“We are excited to partner with Doug Pitt and the Care to Learn program,” said Dr. Hal Higdon, president of OTC.
“Doug’s leadership in providing a better life and education to the young people of our area is a great example of servant leadership and I hope everyone is inspired to support this most worthy program. In these tough economic times, people turn to the community college and many of those people are in tough financial situations and this program is there to help.”
The OTC program, similar to those in place in the Springfield, Nixa and Ozark school districts, will provide immediate funding and action to meet any emergent health, hunger or hygiene issue a student or student’s dependent might have. The program will soon expand to the Bolivar school district.
“It’s about addressing a physical need, restoring respect, and getting that child back in the classroom. A kid comes to school with a need and they are taken care of ASAP; restoring self worth and getting them back in the classroom,” Pitt said.
“This is a great partnership with OTC. We want to bring the sunshine. These are $50 and $100 fixes. This is a way to right the ship. We don’t want to turn people away. It’s the OTC family we want to help.”
Pitt came up with the idea for Care to Learn after hearing local poverty statistics.
Doug called his brother, Brad Pitt, and shared the stories and statistics with him. The idea was to come up with a fund that could take care of the students’ needs as soon as they are known.
On that same phone call, Brad said to do it and the Jolie-Pitt Foundation offered $50,000 to start the fund, a commitment for the first three years of the fund. Local businessman Jim D. Morris matched the Jolie-Pitt Foundation’s pledge.
Todd Yerby, a communications faculty member at OTC, endorsed the program and told the audience Thursday that he has been in contact with students who could have benefited from the Care to Learn fund.
“Addressing the issues of health, hunger and hygiene within the OTC community is a needed investment. It is an investment in education, well being and respect that will reap rich rewards well into the future,” he said.
“Every day, myself, along with my colleagues, watch students pass through our classrooms, our offices, these hallways, many of whom have significant needs related to health, hunger and hygiene.”
Yerby told audience about one such needy student he did not identify.
Yerby learned that the student had lost hours at work, had his utilities cut off, had no money for gas and didn’t know where his next meal was coming from.
After six weeks of going to class, he was gone and Yerby never saw him again.
“This type of situation happens over and over again. Care to Learn, through the efforts of Doug Pitt and many others, provides the opportunity to change fortunes, challenge adversity and confront the basic needs of health, hygiene, and hunger,” Yerby said
Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications at Ozarks Technical Community College.
College Director of Communications
Coordinator of Publications
Phone: (417) 447-2666