Silicon Valley Community Foundation has announced the launch of the COVID-19 Education Partnership, an initiative in collaboration with the San Mateo County Office of Education and the Santa Clara County Office of Education to support the needs of local education systems through the current crisis.
Recognizing the tectonic shifts in the education system as the pandemic unfolds, SVCF pivoted from its usual education grantmaking strategy to form the COVID-19 Education Partnership, which will focus on education challenges caused and exacerbated by the pandemic. SVCF has seeded the initiative with $1 million. Biotechnology leader Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, has matched SVCF’s commitment with an additional $1 million to support K-12 students, teachers and schools as part of the company’s COVID-19 pandemic response in support of public health and emergency community needs.
“School closures have significant implications for the education, health and well-being of students, families and communities,” said Nicole Taylor, president and CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation. “With California schools remaining closed for the remainder of the academic year, these concerns will escalate. The COVID-19 Education Partnership will help fill some of the gaps of local education needs and help improve continuity in our children’s education during this critical time.”
The initial $2 million in funding from the partnership will expand the capacity of local school districts and the county offices of education to address immediate challenges and long-term recovery efforts related to COVID-19, including but not limited to:
Social and emotional health and wellness support for students, families and staff
Distance learning, including IT infrastructure and equipment, technical assistance and training for teachers and staff, and assistance for students with special needs and dual language learners
Emergency childcare centers, including staffing needs, program materials, healthcare and cleaning supplies
Continued and/or expanded access to nutrition services
Efforts to engage families in their children’s education
Other extraordinary measures required to address the crisis and shelter-in-place orders
In this first phase of emergency response, SVCF will provide infrastructure for the fund and distribute grants to the two county offices of education, each of which will play key roles in determining and prioritizing needs in their respective school districts. For example, a county office of education can discern between a school district that has an evenly distributed low rate of children receiving free and reduced lunches, versus a district that has an overall low rate but includes some schools at which a high percentage of families need this type of support.
“The impact of COVID-19 on our students and school communities has been severe and widespread, and existing equity gaps are more pronounced than ever,” shared Nancy Magee, superintendent of schools for Santa Mateo County. “We are grateful to Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Genentech for helping us ensure every student in the county has access to education, food, mental health, and other critical supports necessary for distance learning. My hope is that the San Mateo County community will join in this effort to hold up our students hardest hit by this global pandemic.”
Taylor reiterated the importance of the community foundation’s partnerships with the local county offices of education in this effort:
“The pandemic is affecting all of our children, and has been particularly devastating to our children whose families earn low or no incomes, and in our communities of color. The county offices of education have deep knowledge of the needs of their students and families, which will help guide funds as soon as possible to the students who need it most. Silicon Valley Community Foundation is proud to work with our community’s education leaders at the San Mateo County Office of Education and the Santa Clara County Office of Education to ensure equity across our education system.”
Dr. Mary Anne Dewan, superintendent of schools for Santa Clara County, emphasized that the ramifications of the virus, including the shelter in place order and school closures, continue to be significant.
“It has impacted all of our lives. Our schools have urgent funding needs to sustain meal provisions, address the deep digital divide to support distance learning, offer services for well-being and engage students, families and community in the months to come,” she says. “The COVID-19 Education Partnership with Silicon Valley Community Foundation and San Mateo County Office of Education emphasizes the importance of leadership and teamwork to help our local districts weather this very challenging and difficult time.”
Of Genentech’s generous funding for the COVID-19 Education Partnership, Kristen Campbell Reed, senior director of corporate and employee giving at Genentech, said:
“We’re so pleased to help provide critical support services for local schools during this period of great disruption. In addition to our seed investment, we are launching a pro bono initiative to connect school districts with expertise in IT, communications and other areas to support remote learning and recovery efforts. Our hope is that what will begin in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties can ultimately serve counties across Northern California.”
To learn more about the COVID-19 Education Partnership or to donate to the fund, visit: https://www.siliconvalleycf.org/education-response
At this time, funding is only available to San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. School districts seeking funding in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties can apply at their respective county office of education website:
San Mateo County Office of Education: https://www.smcoe.org/other/covid-19-response-and-resources/silicon-valley-community-foundation.html
Santa Clara County Office of Education: https://www.sccoe.org/covid-19/Pages/SV-Grant.aspx