WILMINGTON — United Way of Delaware’s “Get Delaware Reading” campaigns in New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties have each been named national “2021 Bright Spot” communities for innovative responses to the instructional challenges posed by the COVID crisis.
The CGLR “Bright Spot” recognition highlights 54 communities across the United States that implemented innovative responses to the COVID crisis, including new or adaptive roles, programs, organizational relationships and collaborations, policies and/or resources. In particular, the CGLR recognizes communities for crafting solutions that are especially effective, replication-worthy, and/or deserving of being sustained during the post-COVID period.
Recognizing the seriousness of learning loss during the pandemic, especially for students of color, the Get Delaware Reading campaign:
As well, when Delaware public schools closed last March, UWDE quickly raised funds to help establish or maintain 27 educational learning pods in some of Delaware’s most underserved communities. Working in partnership with 21 community-based organizations, the Longwood Foundation, the City of Wilmington, numerous corporate and individual donors and Delaware’s school districts, the pods facilitated access to the internet and computers while ensuring continuation of meals and consistent adult coaching and supervision.
These professionally staffed, safety-compliant learning pods now help keep more than 750 Delaware students from falling behind. Each learning pod works in collaboration with local school districts to ensure students are engaged with the standard curriculum.
“Ensuring that all Delaware children, especially children of color, are reading on grade-level by third grade is a UWDE strategic priority," Michelle A. Taylor, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Delaware, said in a prepared statement. "COVID presented significant challenges, but through collaborative efforts with community-based partners in New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties, we now offer children and their families the tools they need to succeed. We appreciate this national recognition as a Bright Spot community. We look forward to sharing our experiences and to learning from other Bright Spot communities about navigating the challenges of COVID-19.”
Adam Kramer, state director for the Green Beret Project shared the impact learning pods are having on his students.
“When they started their learning pod in December, every kid that was taking Zoom classes was failing. Now they are 100% passing," he said in a statement.
He told the story of a star basketball player who was sidelined because of failing grades. Upon attending the learning pod, the student received help accessing his remote classes, Mr. Kramer said, and improved his class participation, received tutoring, and went from a 4% grade to a 96% grade in his math class.
Lauren Cusick, instructional coach at Kent County’s Fairview Elementary School said My Very Own library has had a positive impact on her students.
“Our students come from diverse backgrounds and many had limited access to books at home," she said. "Partnering with MVOL has been a lifesaver for our students because they have been given the opportunity to build their home libraries with books of their choice. We have also had an increase in family engagement participation which has resulted in a stronger school community.”
Karen Man, First State Community Action Council, said, “With the team efforts of United Way and First State Community Action Agency, we’ve planted seeds of inspiration, imagination, and social interaction in children who were beginning to lose hope. This is a “TEAM” effort, which stands for Together Everyone Achieves More. This is our daily motto, which we strive to perfect.”