August 17, 2020

Our Partners Help Remove Barriers of Remote Learning

Together, we will ensure that our youth will have the tools and resources they need.

Here at Friends of the Children-Seattle, our mission demands that we walk alongside our youth and their families no matter what happens.

Throughout the past few months, our professional mentors have been one critical component in supporting and empowering youth. It has been hard for us all to grapple with the world changing. Our children are no different. Alongside parents and caregivers, mentors had to answer tough questions around the pandemic, like why they couldn’t see their friends and families, and if schools were closed, why did they still have so much work.

When we pivoted to remote services, it brought on unforeseen challenges. We quickly realized many children didn’t have the technology needed to participate in Zoom calls to connect with their mentors or tune into online schooling. There was a severe opportunity gap that our organization wanted to support and fill.

We reached out to our most dedicated supporters. And we are so grateful to the Crystal Springs Foundation (Mike and Joyce Murray), Microsoft, and the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation for answering that call.

  • Ensuring children succeed in school and have the necessary tools they need to connect with their professional mentors online.
  • Microsoft employees donated 127 laptops and tablets to distribute to youth to engage in online instruction;
  • each child in grades K-8 received a full premium Prodigy account to practice and learn math, and every child who needs the support will receive virtual tutoring for subjects thanks to Crystal Springs (Mike and Joyce Murray).

With this increase in laptop access, “We’re going to be able to do more virtual outings [and] be able to see the kids more often,” said Bryan, a K-5 professional mentor. “[Youth] will be able to hit a lot of their academic goals...some of our youth will even use [these laptops] in their college endeavors. I look forward to seeing how our youth begin to shine with these.”

We recognize that there will come a time when we will be able to see youth in person, and we have to prepare for when that happens. This process will need to be intentional and carefully planned. To begin those efforts, each mentor will receive a health kit equipped with masks, thermometers and disposable covers, hand sanitizer, and Lysol. Families will also receive toolkits to prepare youth for in-person visits.

Many of the youth in our program receive two of their three main meals in school. Because schools closed in March 2020, some families have had to provide more meals than anticipated. To help supplement, the Crystal Springs Foundation (Mike and Joyce Murray) and our partners have stepped up to meet family needs.

  • Mentors will receive healthy meal toolkits to cook with their youth, virtually.
  • Families will receive gift cards to grocery stores to supplement unanticipated meals.
  • Supply weekly food bags that are supported through various local partnerships, including Green Plate Special and the Rainier Valley Food Bank, among many others.

We want to acknowledge the critical role partners and supporters play in our youths’ success. We commit to supporting our youth and families for the long-term, no matter what. Thank you for ensuring that we keep our commitment.