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The Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) is launching a Technology Support Fund intended to help school districts and families purchase the mobile hotspots, prepaid data plans, computers and subscriptions to online learning plans needed to access and deliver distance learning this year. 

The Technology Support Fund is seeded through a $50,000 donation from Bank of Marin and received an additional $11,400 donation from the Santa Rosa Express Youth Running Club. The hope is that other individuals, businesses and community organizations will also be inspired to donate to this fund so that more students can be served by it.

"The need for schools and charters to pivot to distance learning in response to the COVID-19 crisis has underscored the inequities that exist between students who have easy access to the internet and computing devices and those who do not," said Dan Blake, director of innovation and partnerships at SCOE. "Digging below the surface reveals a troubling reality: low socioeconomic status students and English learners are hit hardest by this issue. We are incredibly thankful to these community partners for coming forward during this difficult time to offer resources to help address this equity gap and give Sonoma County students the tools they need to succeed."

The COVID-19 Technology Support Fund will prioritize those districts and charters with the greatest needs based upon their student population and the impacts of the financial crisis on their operating budget. Using the seed funding, SCOE will set up a fund so local school districts and charters can make requests through a mini-grant process. Grants of up to $5,000 will be available to offset the costs of technology-related expenses tied to the demands and challenges of distance learning.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront inequities in our education system that have existed for far too long," said Russell A. Colombo, Bank of Marin president and CEO. "It is incumbent on us as a community to come together and ensure equitable access to remote learning so that all students can receive the education they deserve."

"During these times of extreme economic and personal hardship for so many, it is inspiring to see these community businesses and organizations step forward to support our most vulnerable students," said Steve Herrington, Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools. "On behalf of the schools of Sonoma County, I am grateful for their generosity, which I hope will inspire other organizations to do the same."

For questions about the Technology Support Fund, or to donate, please contact Dan Blake at 707-524-2780 or dblake@scoe.org.Additional information and a link to donate is also available atscoe.org/techfund.

(1) comment

MKH

Yet another reason to support Prop. 15, Schools and Communities First. A child's education should not be reliant on donations and philanthropy. We shouldn't leave the quality of our public education to the hit or miss environment of fundraising. The best way to make sure that all students have adequate resources is public funding. All students deserve to have well-resourced schools and classrooms despite their birth lottery. As we look at racial and economic equity in our society, one of the first places that we should consider is our public school system. California public schools are ranked in the mid-30s per capital funding. Our state GDP is 5th in the world. If we could bring our public school funding in-line with our GDP, we'd have some of the best funded schools in the world. We should at least fund our students at the same rate as Massachusetts, Alaska, Wyoming, Vermont, or New Jersey. All these states are in the top 10 and none of them have the GDP of California. Let's start helping the next generation of Californians - they are our future doctors, nurses, engineers, entrepreneurs, parents and community leaders. Why not at least give them the same funding as a child living in Vermont. Vermont has a GDP $27 Billion. California has a GDP of $3 Trillion. And I just looked it up ....one billion is 1,000,000,000 and a trillion is 1,000,000,000,000 so one trillion is one thousand times one billion. In short, California has a lot more in GDP than Vermont. I think we can fund our schools at Vermont levels...

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