As a part of a community effort, the Hamilton County school district and its partners have established a Faith-based Virtual Learning Center Partnership with special micro-grants to assist with program start-ups.
"Home-life in 2020 has changed drastically, particularly for parents of school-age children seeking to learn at home due to COVID-19 concerns," officials said. "An abundance of Zoom meetings, learning new technology and numerous on-line classes have accelerated the bounds of our technical knowledge beyond our wildest dreams. Thanks to Virtual Learning Centers in the community established by Hamilton County Schools and community partners, there is relief in sight for parents. The centers give children a place to access technology and receive help from a qualified adult. Also, parents have peace of mind knowing that their children are learning in a safe, supportive environment."
More information about Virtual Learning Centers can be found at www.hcde.org/vlc.
The partnership's goal is to identify and support approximately 15 faith-based organizations serving as virtual learning centers through micro-grants and provide an opportunity for the community to contribute to the micro-grants. "Churches and other faith-based organizations serving the areas of greatest need in our community are stepping up to provide a stopgap between the school system and families in their area of the city," officials said. "Students who could quickly get behind with assignments will now receive support at the Virtual Learning Center to ensure that their assignments are fully understood and completed."
Church and faith-based partners who have signed a memorandum of understanding with Hamilton County Schools as a Virtual Learning Center partner can apply to receive micro-grants. The grants can assist with non-budgeted expenses as the locations extend their hours to provide support to families. Extra utility costs, additional wages for support staff and technology upgrades will be covered by micro-grants funded in part by local foundations and community donations.
Representatives from Hamilton County Schools, Chattanooga 2.0 and The Generosity Trust will serve on the review committee for the sites selected to receive micro-grants. (Link: Faith-Based Virtual Learning Center Grant Application)
"Funding from the community is needed to sustain the effort, and we hope you will consider involvement," officials said. "Community members can contribute to this critical need through the Hamilton County Schools Foundation's GeneroCity: Faith-based Virtual Learning Centers Fund at the Generosity Trust. All dollars raised will support the micro-grants to the church/faith-based partners who apply. The micro-grants will continue until all funds are fully distributed. We encourage you to join the effort to assist Hamilton County students and their families in their continued learning." (Link: Faith-based Virtual Learning Centers, select "Community Virtual Learning Centers" to designate your gift.)
Area non-profit On Point serves as the Lead Partner Agency as a liaison between Hamilton County Schools and the churches/organizations serving as Virtual Learning Centers. As the learning centers identify student and family needs, On-Point will step in to ensure regular and consistent communication -- convening monthly meetings, conducting site visits and providing consultation to the Virtual Learning Center partners.
The program allows you to be a part of the solution for parents juggling household responsibilities, working remotely and serving as their child's academic tutor. "Many parents are 'burning the candle from both ends' and need help to meet the new challenges," officials said. "Becoming part of the effort to fund Virtual Learning Centers will help children succeed in a difficult time and keep Hamilton County Schools and the community on track to become one of Tennessee's best school districts."