Participants in Indiana's "Last Mile" computer education program for prisoners gather around a computer monitor

$2.6M Fund to Plug Marion County E-Learning Gaps

(INDIANAPOLIS) – Marion County’s 11 school districts are getting a hand with the transition to e-learning.

19 corporate and charitable donors have put up $2.6 million for an e-learning fund to help students who lack either devices or a stable Internet connection to access e-learning. Patrick McAlister, Mayor Joe Hogsett’s director of education innovation, says ensuring students have Internet access will be part of the new e-learning fund’s mission, but not the only part. McAlister is chairing a seven-member committee created to administer the fund. He says the panel will talk to the county’s superintendents and charter school leaders about where the gaps are, then decide how best to spend the money.

State school superintendent Jennifer McCormick announced last week all schools would shift to remote learning for the remainder of the school year due to the coronavirus pandemic. She says 85% of Indiana’s school districts are already equipped for e-learning, but notes even in those districts, there are low-income families or others who lack the hardware to handle lessons online.

The panel includes the superintendents of the Indianapolis Public Schools and the Lawrence and Perry Township school districts. The other committee members are Eastern Star Church senior pastor Jeffrey Johnson, La Plaza CEO Miriam Acevedo Davis, and Mind Trust CEO Brandon Brown.

The fund will primarily serve Marion County, but it’ll also create a “best practices” lab to advise school districts across the state.

The donors include Emmis Communications, the parent company of WIBC and Network Indiana. The fund is still accepting additional donations.

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