How do we ensure equitable access to learning remotely without a tablet or Wi-Fi?
By Errika Moore, senior program officer, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has announced that distance learning will continue through the end of the academic year. Distance learning has become the new way of life for many students, but unfortunately not for all. For some students, the past 30 days have represented an inequitable educational experience without access to devices and/or internet access. Most districts have worked diligently to achieve a 1:1 student to device ratio. But despite this effort, districts need our support in achieving this goal so that all students can receive equitable access to a continued educational experience for the next 60 days and beyond.
The Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund is working diligently with districts, educational foundations and nonprofit partners to provide grants that can help make a difference. Last week, we gave a grant to PowerMyLearning, an organization that helps students in low-income communities harness the power of digital learning to improve educational outcomes. PowerMyLearning has already received requests to support 13,411 local students and this grant will help the organization to meet needs for devices, Wi-Fi, content and support for students experiencing homelessness.
We’re honored that corporate and community leaders like Slalom Consulting are committed to “making a difference and making an impact.” We thank them for graciously providing their time, expertise and desire to support students in need during this time to craft an illustrative map of need in our 23-county service area. Currently, an average of 36.5% of students in our 23-county area are estimated to be without devices – with some specific districts as high as 93%. The map reflects the number of devices that are still needed for students. In partnership with the Georgia Department of Education, which provided the data based on information that it received from the 2018-19 school year (and cross referenced with October 2019 enrollment), Slalom Consulting created an effective visual that can help us coordinate our efforts at a regional level, prioritize our efforts to impact the greatest in need first and create awareness to hopefully inspire others to make a difference.
We recognize that education is the great opportunity equalizer for underserved and underrepresented students. And we’re committed to not only addressing the immediate crisis but mitigating inequities in future access as well.
You can provide help today for organizations like PowerMyLearning and other nonprofits who are filling in gaps across Georgia during this time of crisis by donating to the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.
*Featured photo courtesy of PowerMyLearning