Shelter-in-place orders that have closed schools across the Bay Area have shined a spotlight on the potential of remote learning. But they have also exposed significant inequities at the highest-need schools, including many here in West Contra Costa County, where teachers struggle to ensure all of their students have what they need at home to keep up with the curriculum.
For those teachers, help is on the way. DonorsChoose, a national nonprofit that has connected U.S. teachers with nearly $1 billion in funding for classroom requests over the last 20 years, is launching a pilot program empowering teachers to send supplies directly to students at home.
The Keep Kids Learning initiative will provide teachers from the highest-need schools, including the West Contra Costa Unified School District, with $1,000 in grants to purchase remote learning and other essential supplies for their students.
Keep Kids Learning has received $3.7 million in donations, including a $500,000 contribution from Chevron. With the aim of raising as much funding as possible, the nonprofit has automatically waived their 15 percent optional donation for this program, so 100 percent of gifts will go directly to supplies for teachers and their students.
Donations can be made by clicking here.
“We know that when students in high-poverty communities cannot go to school, their home resources will define their education, meaning that coronavirus threatens to widen educational inequity in America,” said Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose. “We’re so grateful for this support from Chevron and for their help in making sure students have the resources they need to learn from home during these unprecedented times.”
How the program works: Eligible teachers will be able to shop for pre-approved urgent and essential items such as books, basic supplies like pens, paper and calculators, arts and crafts materials and also shelf-stable groceries and hygiene items. They can then choose the shipping address that ensures students get what they need.
While the program is initially offering grants to the highest-need schools, DonorsChoose says the challenges of remote learning are “urgent and far-reaching” and hopes to raise enough funds to expand it to more teachers and students in need.
“We recognize this is an incredibly difficult time for families,” said Linsi Crain, Corporate Affairs manager for Chevron in Richmond. “We are pleased to support our local teachers and help them support Richmond kids to continue learning and stay healthy during this challenging time.”
In addition to this pilot program, donors can still support classroom projects shared on donorschoose.org throughout the year.