Some 4,303 students and their families from 19 different school districts and charter schools in San Diego County will now have access and a stronger connection to the Internet to help them with distance learning activities.
The names of the schools and districts set to receive a portion of the $2 million in County of San Diego general fund money for satellite and cable Internet, and wireless hotspots were announced today by Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who proposed funding from the County budget be used to bridge the digital divide, Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County Superintendent of Schools and Pamela Gray Payton, Vice President, Chief Impact and Partnerships Office, The San Diego Foundation. Also on hand was Carlos Salazar, Director of Technology and Innovation, King-Chavez Neighborhood of Schools, one of the funding awardees.
The funding recipients are:
- All Tribes American Indian Charter
- Borrego Springs Unified School District
- Darnall Charter
- Epiphany Prep Charter
- Escondido Union High School District
- Iftin Charter
- Julian Union High School District
- Julian Union School District
- KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy
- King-Chavez Academy of Excellence
- King-Chavez Community High
- King-Chavez Preparatory Academy
- King-Chavez Arts & Athletics Academy
- King-Chavez Primary Academy
- MY Academy
- National School District
- San Ysidro School District
- South Bay Union School District
- Warner Unified School District
These schools were selected by the San Diego County Office of Education after an application process that considered student needs and prioritized schools with high percentages of students who have disabilities, are in the foster care system, experiencing homelessness, or who live in rural areas. The need was far greater than the available resources as some $8.25 million in requests were submitted to the San Diego County Office of Education.
“We talk about our teens as digital natives, but that does not always extend to the tools necessary to be successful in an academic environment. One of the struggles spotlighted during COVID-19 has been student access to reliable internet connectivity for distance learning,” said Supervisor Fletcher, co-chair of the County’s COVID-19 Subcommittee. “That is the reason I fought so hard during the County’s budget deliberations to secure this money. Educating our youth is essential, even more so during a pandemic and I didn’t want that to get lost.”
The San Diego County Office of Education has worked closely with all 42 school districts throughout San Diego County, along with the private and charter schools, to navigate the learning environment during COVID-19. They report that an estimated 45,000 children in the county still lack access to the internet or are under-connected.
“The pandemic did not cause the digital divide. It exacerbated it," said San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold. "Even with school re-openings, the vast majority of students are participating in a hybrid environment that requires both in person and on-line learning. We are thankful to Supervisor Fletcher, the County Board of Supervisors, the San Diego Foundation, and our community partners for their support in closing this gap and getting our kids what they need and deserve to thrive.”
The San Diego Foundation through the COVID-19 Community Response Fund, launched in March in partnership with Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, has contributed nearly $3 million to address the digital divide and learning loss in San Diego.
Their grant support has been directed to help low-income families by providing Internet connectivity and laptops to kids without the necessary technology to do schoolwork at home, as well as funding organizations that provide virtual training and mentorship services for students most at-risk of falling behind in school.
As part of this initiative The Foundation has committed an additional $1 million to support future digital divide needs in the San Diego region.
“While there has been an overwhelming amount of generosity during this pandemic, the needs of our local families and students continue to grow,” shared Pamela Gray Payton, Chief Impact and Partnership Officer at The San Diego Foundation. “By focusing on disparities in education, The San Diego Foundation COVID-19 Community Response Fund provides charitably-oriented San Diegans and businesses with an opportunity to help those impacted by the crisis while also bridging economic, educational and racial gaps in meaningful ways. COVID-19 has placed significant burdens on our youngest generation but thanks to the leadership demonstrated with this initiative, we will be able to bridge the digital divide in San Diego County so that every child has a bright future.”