June 26, 2020 (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) – In an effort to prevent summer academic slide for students PreK through grade 8, and to combat Lancaster County’s digital divide that threatens to leave hundreds of county children lagging behind their peers academically, The Steinman Foundation is pleased to announce the Lancaster Partnership for Learning Equity. This partnership, which consists of several national and local partners, will provide 600 children in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with a unique opportunity to access high-quality virtual learning this summer free of charge. “This is an amazing opportunity to help 600 children in Lancaster County prepare for the 2021 school year,” said Olivia Walters, Foundation Outreach Coordinator. “We are so grateful to our partners for their generosity and commitment to supporting high-quality summer learning.”
Led by certified teachers, and offered in conjunction with several local partners, this summer learning opportunity will be available on a first-come-first-served basis to any PreK through grade 8 student in Lancaster County. The United Way of Lancaster County has taken the lead on the summer program and will be working with local agencies to offer virtual learning sessions July 13, 2020 through August 7, 2020. Children will participate in two hours of highly engaging literacy and math activities daily Monday through Thursday, and local partners and enrolled families will be given the resources necessary to offer extended learning activities throughout the week.
BellXcel, in partnership with Scholastic Education, a global leader in literacy solutions, has developed the evidence-based, teacher-led approach that successfully adapts classroom experience for virtual learning. BellXcel is able to offer this curriculum and related materials at no cost to 600 children through a grant to the United Way of Lancaster County. “The quality of these instructional materials is really outstanding,” said Kevin M. Ressler, President and CEO of United Way of Lancaster County. “The ability to supplement them with Internet access and computer hardware for low-income families is a big step toward fostering learning equity in our community.”
Beginning in March of this year, Comcast teamed up with The Steinman Foundation, the Lancaster STEM Alliance and local schools to enroll Lancaster County families in Internet Essentials, a program designed to offer broadband access to low-income families. Comcast continues to offer new Internet Essentials customers two free months through December 2020 and The Steinman Foundation will continue to sponsor an additional 4 months of free access for enrolled families. Between March 13, 2020 and May 27, 2020, a total of 851 families in Lancaster County without Internet access took advantage of this exciting offer. “We are committed to closing the digital divide for low-income Americans so that they enjoy success at school, at work and in their communities and we are proud to work with the Steinman Foundation to help achieve that goal,” said Michael Parker, Senior Vice President, Comcast Keystone Region.
The Lancaster Partnership for Learning Equity will make the Internet Essentials program available to eligible families of children enrolled in this summer learning program. In addition, partners will continue to make all county families aware of this exciting opportunity to bring broadband access into the home at a very low cost through the end of December. As part of the Internet Essentials program, families will also have an opportunity to purchase laptops at a greatly reduced price.
The final piece of the summer learning puzzle, computer hardware, will be made available to eligible families through the combined efforts of The Steinman Foundation, the United Way of Lancaster County and the Lancaster Branch of the NAACP. Low-income students who want to participate in the program but lack the appropriate technology will have access to a laptop during the program. Those students who attend at least 80% of the virtual programming available will be able to keep their hardware at the end of the program. This will help to ensure these children are adequately prepared for virtual learning opportunities during the 2020-21 school year.
Families interested in applying for this summer learning opportunity can do so at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2020SLapp or by calling United Way of Lancaster County at 717-824-8122. Lancaster Partnership for Learning Equity is committed to ensuring that all children in Lancaster County have an equal opportunity to excel academically.