tudents who are continuing the school year virtually from home will more frequently turn to their parents or guardians and ask how to spell a word or carry the remainder. Thankfully, there are those who are actively improving the experience of learning from home and mitigating the restrictions caused by COVID-19. The Durham Public Schools Foundation is made up of a board comprised of parents, educators and alumni who aim to build community support for Durham Public Schools and galvanize resources and partnerships from across the community to help strengthen our public schools for all students. In the spring, more than 2,300 donors, volunteers and partners of the organization provided more than 375,000 meals to children and families at the height of the shutdowns that closed schools. Now, the foundation is campaigning to raise $1.5 million for its Accelerating Digital Equity initiative to provide digital devices and access for nearly 33,000 students, many in lower-income families, in Durham Public Schools. As of mid-September, 644 donors have raised $869,000. “This was a need that already existed,” says Katie Spencer Wright, development and communications manager for the foundation. “The students are going to need digital literacy and digital skills to be able to successfully enter the workforce and thrive in their adult lives and careers.” Magan Gonzales-Smith, the foundation’s executive director, says there are four essential pillars that have to be in place to achieve digital equity for students: learning centers, technical support and digital literacy, ongoing student needs for equipment and teacher training. Currently, DPS, Student U, YMCA and Kate’s Korner are all operating learning centers. Other partners may join the collaborative.
Organizing laptops at the start of the school year to be distributed to students at Riverside High School.
A look at the needs of our students and how you can help B Y JAMES HATF IELD | PHOTO BY S US I E PO ST-R UST