Breaking barriers to help underserved Mecklenburg students

Breaking barriers to help underserved Mecklenburg students

Due to the transition to a virtual learning environment for Carolina schools, parents and families may have a hard time accessing school supplies for their children to continue education from home.

Because of social distancing measures resulting from COVID-19, many students will split their time online and in school. Between this and the economic downturn, families are finding it even more difficult to access supplies for their kids to complete their school year and not fall behind.

Brookstone Schools seeks to raise up the next generation of leaders from Charlotte’s inner-city neighborhoods by caring for the entire child and inviting families to invest in the lives of their children.

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“We empower students for upward mobility by providing rigorous academics, opportunity for daily after-school enrichment, and Pathways, a program that equips students for transition to high school and beyond,” said Suzanne Wilson, director of advancement at Brookstone Schools.

When the coronavirus crisis hit Charlotte, the United Way of Central Carolinas and Foundation For The Carolinas partnered to launch the COVID-19 Response Fund.

Brookstone Schools received a $20,000 grant to provide financial assistance to families.

The school has made efforts to lessen the drastic learning loss that might occur due to the crisis. Learning packets (computer, workbooks, notebooks, mechanical pencils and other supplies) were distributed to help parents set up a learning space at home.

“Some of the COVID-19 grant funds have been used to help with remote summer learning for students,” Wilson said. “Funds also are also helping with ongoing costs of educational programming (like) teacher salaries, textbooks, supplies for the 2020-21 academic year.”

While all under-resourced families pay some tuition for their child’s education, based on a sliding scale, Brookstone must raise 95% of their operating funds each year. It receives no state or federal funding except for the annual amount received through the NC Opportunity Scholarship Fund.

“We rely on the goodwill and generosity of our community to give under-resourced children a more hopeful future,” she said.

Brookstone has experienced a downturn in giving since the crisis hit, but the grant funds have helped in the short term to supplement lost income.

“With the burdens of COVID-19 and the pain of racial strife sweeping our nation, it is easy to despair on so many levels,” Wilson said. “However, the wonderful work that our staff and teachers are doing will continue on, no matter what. As a team, they are mission minded and eager to do whatever it takes to give under-resourced children a chance to rise up.”

Wilson hopes that this spirit of goodwill and generosity will continue. That, even in the midst of these unsettling times, people will not lose heart but take action to help relieve the suffering of others.

“It can happen,” she said. “Barriers will come down. We will emerge stronger from this crisis.”

Many more vulnerable and low-income families depend on help from Classroom Central and 9 School Tools to provide simple supplies, such as paper and pencils.

Since 1997, in partnership with Classroom Central and Communities in Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the WSOC-TV 9 School Tools program has collected school supplies, which are then distributed free to students in grades K-12.

For many families, home needs sometimes outweigh needs at school. When a family must choose between buying enough food for dinner or paying the power bill, the pressure of purchasing school supplies is an added expense that families can’t afford.

A 9 School Tools financial donation program is in place with different levels of giving that will support the needs of Classroom Central. Donors can equate their monetary donation to what can be supplied by Classroom Central.

Here are some of the giving levels:

  • A donation of $9 will help provide homework supplies for students.
  • A donation of $25 will help fill a student’s backpack with school supplies.
  • A donation of $50 will supply a teacher with essential school items.
  • A donation of $100 will supply an entire class with STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) kits.

Learn more about 9 School Tools at www.9SchoolTools.com.

If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.