COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The City of Columbus and other partners announced a coalition of Learning Extension Centers around the community where students, in grades K-12, can receive academic assistance, meals, reliable internet, and wraparound services that would have been available to them in a traditional school setting.
“My nephew Christian has been virtually learning at my house. We’ve got the technology and even though I’m working from home, it is really hard. Every caregiver will tell you the same thing right now,” said City Council President Shannon Hardin. “Council is happy to invest almost $2 million in Learning Extension Centers to provide a tangible resource to working families and help our kids learn in a safe environment.”
Columbus accepted a CARES Act grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to enter into a contract with ‘I Know I Can’ to provide funding to organizations operating as Learning Extension Centers. ‘I Know I Can’ serves as the administrative agent.
“Students need more than classroom instruction to succeed,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther. “Learning Extension Centers can provide critical support services, such as mentoring, college counseling and advising, tutoring, healthcare, access to nutritious food, and services that support their physical and social-emotional health and development.”
The majority of the budget provides funding for staffing, volunteer training and background checks. Programming, supplies, food, and other materials are also funded through this allocation.
“It has been said that the safest ships in a storm are leadership and friendship,” said Tei Street, President of I Know I Can Board of Directors. “Mayor Ginther, City Council, and the non-profit and faith-based sectors have partnered to demonstrate great leadership and friendship during what is the greatest storm of our lives, to benefit ‘the least of these:’ our young people. I Know I Can is proud to join in the formation and support of the Learning Extension Centers.”
Learning Extension Centers and the programs/services provided to students will be managed and supported by a team consisting of a project manager, regional coordinators and site coordinators stationed at each center. The project manager will be the liaison to Columbus City Schools leadership, faith-based organizations and community nonprofits. This role will also work closely with and supervise the regional coordinators who will be assigned to one of six geographic regions across the school district.
“We need an all hands on deck approach to support the needs of students as they continue to deal with a virtual learning environment,” said President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown. “Expanding opportunities for not only learning but also for crucial wraparound services through these centers helps level the playing field for every student and family during this pandemic, especially those who are struggling most.”
An interactive map of Learning Extension Centers is available here.