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Indianapolis launches $2.6 million e-learning fund

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A fund has been set up in Indianapolis aimed at supporting educators, students and families as they rely on e-learning for the remainder of the academic year.

Jocelyn Rivera, like many Hoosier parents, has to teach her daughter online, via e-learning.

“It’s stressful man, I’m telling you!” said Rivera.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has forced all Indiana K-12 schools to learn remotely for the rest of the school year.

“I give props to all the teachers that do that” Rivera said.

Wednesday, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced a more than $2.6 million investment into a new e-learning fund.

It’s a result of a collaboration with a host of funding partners, designed to immediately help Marion County with the move to learning online.

“And every teacher will have the tools that they need to educate all of the students.” said Hogsett.

According to a media release from the mayor’s office, those funding partners include: Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, The Cummins Foundation, EdChoice, Emmis Communications, Glick Philanthropies, The Heritage Group, Indianapolis Foundation, The Indianapolis Foundation Library Fund, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana Charter School Network, Institute for Quality Education, Lilly Endowment Inc., Lumina Foundation, The Mind Trust, OneAmerica Foundation Inc., Salesforce, Telamon Foundation, and United Way of Central Indiana.

The fund has 4 focus areas: technology access, county-wide e-learning strategy, county-wide social-emotional learning strategy and statewide e-learning lab.

“The Indianapolis E-Learning Fund was conceived and developed to help address acute short-term e-learning needs not covered by federal stimulus funds or other relief efforts,” said Claire Fiddian-Green, president and CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation.

Not all students have devices or even a strong WiFi connection at home.

“There’s a huge disparity that exists when it comes to that access. We’re excited for this fund to have launched,” said superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools Aleesia Johnson.

Johnson said the money will help schools and districts.

“That could look like purchasing hot-spots for WiFi access for families. That could look like supporting teachers in making the transition to an e-learning environment. That could look like buying those computers, iPads and tablets and those kinds of things,” Johnson said.

IPS says the district will be distributing up to 6,000 Chromebooks to families. IPS will loan laptops to all families who said they need one, which are to be returned when school resumes.

The district also got a donation to buy nearly 1,500 MiFi mobile hotspot devices for families who don’t have internet access. They’re working on more.

For Rivera, the multimillion dollar investment helps.

“I feel like that’s really, really good,” Rivera said. “I know a lot of people that struggle day by day to get by.”

Hogsett’s Office of Education Innovation will administer the fund, and the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee will serve as the fiscal agent. The media release also said a committee of Indianapolis educators and community members will advise on funding decisions. The seven committee members are:

  • Miriam Acevedo Davis, President and CEO, La Plaza
  • Brandon Brown, CEO, The Mind Trust
  • Aleesia Johnson, Superintendent, Indianapolis Public Schools
  • Jeffrey A. Johnson Sr., Senior Pastor, Eastern Star Church
  • Pat Mapes, Superintendent, Perry Township Schools
  • Patrick McAlister, Director, Indianapolis Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation (committee chair)
  • Shawn Smith, Superintendent, Lawrence Township

If you would like to donate to the fund, you can do so here.