By Tyronda James
Local and national collaborators have responded to technology gaps brought on by the pandemic for city of Rochester students. Students who need laptop computers, tablets, and devices to provide internet connections for school will be receiving them.
“I am extremely grateful for the generosity and innovative spirit of our partners who are helping to ensure that our students receive the best education possible during a global pandemic,” says RCSD Superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small.
“For many of us, having reliable internet access is a given. For many of our students, getting this access will not only help with their education, but it also brings them to a more equitable playing field.”
Rochester City School District (RCSD) decision to continue remote learning this fall, internet speed and a consistent connection required for effective online learning through the Individual hotspot devices distributed in the spring became an issue.
RCSD is collaborating with Monroe County, ESL, Greater Rochester Health Foundation (GRHF), and Rochester Area Community Foundation (RACF) on solving internet connectivity issues so that more students can actively participate in their school day successfully.
“Thanks to the support of our community partners, we’re able to ensure that RCSD students will have reliable WiFi for the rest of the school year,” says Monroe County Executive Adam J. Bello.
“As we continue to navigate this unprecedented pandemic, we need to work together to ensure our students have the resources they need to learn and succeed,” Bello.
T-Mobile’s Project 10Million is donating 2,900 mobile hotspots to RCSD students in kindergarten through high school.
The county has committed $175,000 of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act money to cover the monthly unlimited data charges for devices through December 31.
The organizations are also working collaboratively with area philanthropies to assist purchases of additional mobile hotspots.
Local funders are committed to contributing and raising additional resources to continue to pay the $83,000 monthly unlimited data charges.
Ajamu Kitwana, vice president/director, community impact at ESL Federal Credit Union said the collaboration between Monroe County and RCSD was motivation to match the county’s funding and show the company’s deep support.
“The collaborative work being done in our community across public, private and nonprofit sectors to address the critical needs of families during this pandemic is the exact kind of regional collaboration we need to solve Greater Rochester’s challenges,” said Kitwana.
With ESL paying for two months of internet connectivity and GRHF and RACF committing to each pay for one month, ESL plans to close the gap and United Way of Greater Rochester has pitched in $25,000, the first gift to be matched by ESL.
“Our hope is that other local funders, businesses, community organizations, and even individuals will be interested in joining us to support better remote learning for our children,” says Simeon Banister, vice president for Community Programs at the Community Foundation.
Contributions can be made online at www.racf.org/COVIDEducation.