When the pandemic first shut down BVSD schools back in March of 2020, we knew school closures would present a significant hardship for students, especially for those who rely on schools for more than just their education. We responded swiftly, providing an array of immediate support for students and families. However, we also knew the disruption to student learning would be disproportionate and could have a profound impact on the long-term success of students, especially those who are economically disadvantaged.
As we all now know, the pandemic was not a short-lived interference in our lives; we are now in the third year of interrupted learning for students in our community. Now that we’re a few months into the 2021-22 school year and students are mostly back in person, our focus shifted from providing emergency relief to addressing the potential gaps in student learning.
Making up ground
We are committed to ensuring all students can learn and that those who’ve fallen behind can make up ground this year. We are also committed to helping students learn coping skills and build the resilience challenged by long periods of social isolation.
In partnership with BVSD, we are funding a variety of school and student needs across the District. Because the needs vary widely, so do our investments. One of the tools we are using to fund these situations facing students and schools this year is our Academic Opportunity Fund. Both educators and school administrators can apply for funding to support students, classes, or schools.
A successful first round of funding
The first funding round for the 2021-22 Academic Opportunity Fund closed in early October with over 30 applications submitted that were then reviewed by a team of community volunteers. We are proud to announce that we are able to meet the needs of 24 applicants: four applicants were connected to other district resources to meet their needs and 20 applicants received funding directly from Impact on Education.
Funding requests came from across the district, from mountain schools like Gold Hill to Broomfield schools, with over $30,000 awarded just in this first round. Requests ranged from technology licenses to classroom curriculum and supplies to health needs to musical instruments. Student populations being served by this funding span K-12 grade levels with students in ILC classrooms, AP classrooms, and elective classrooms all being impacted by these fulfilled requests.
The Academic Opportunity Fund is currently open for its second round of funding with a third round planned this fall as well. We anticipate we’ll continue to meet the varied needs of schools, relying on dedicated community volunteers to read and evaluate the grant requests we receive.
While the Academic Opportunity Fund addresses immediate student needs beyond what BVSD is able to provide, our other program dollars continue to support large-scale district initiatives.
In addition to the funding we disperse with our Academic Opportunity Fund, several large-scale district-wide issues have come to light as well this academic year. We are working with our partners at BVSD to address some of these needs, including mental health, transportation, supplemental instructional time, early childhood education, and career readiness.
Throughout the pandemic, we learned that one of Impact on Education’s greatest strengths is our ability to adapt to the changing and evolving needs of students. While we feel confident that our investments this academic year are vital to the success of all students, we are also prepared to pivot and change as the landscape shifts.