“Things that you would think of, for example ear buds,” described Anoka Hennepin Educational Foundation executive director Tess DeGeest. “Students are studying at the kitchen table with their siblings. Or one is in the kitchen and one is in the living room. Ear buds cost about a dollar a piece and they and they help a student focus.”
The majority of the foundation’s grants are giving out in the spring. The Fall grant cycle is for smaller grants, maxing out at $500 dollars per project as is designed to meet needs that teachers didn’t anticipate in the spring. This year there have been many unexpected needs.
Earlier this year, they invested in mobile hot spots for families without internet, and now they are working with Comcast to get families in need set up with broadband, since hot spots weren’t working out well for larger families.
Headphones and broadband are helping students access the learning, but there were other challenges with access to materials.
“We had a family and consumer science teacher teaching a cooking class ask for cooking kits, because she had students who were trying to participate in their cooking class, but they didn’t have measuring cups or measuring spoons or bowls or spatulas,” said DeGeest.
The foundation gave more than $15,000 thousand dollars to schools in the mini grant cycle. They receive all of their money through donations.
“Seeing and feeling the impact that their generosity has on our students and staff – that’s what makes my job so wonderful.”
Other grants in this cycle funded computer mice and styluses for distance learning, as well as some classroom items that students will be able to use in the future.