Keeping Learning Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Disaster Relief Fund COVID-19 Update, September 2021

The Coronavirus pandemic challenged all of us to rethink how we live and work. For those of us in the nonprofit sector, it challenges us to rethink how we can best fulfill our mission in changed circumstances.

We’re now entering the third school year impacted by the pandemic, and teachers need supplies to keep learning safe.

Many teachers and students are reuniting in the classroom for back to school. However, it won’t be a simple return. 

NWEA found that student performance was lower in 2020, and it was especially apparent for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students. Accounting for learning loss and the emotional difficulties associated with the pandemic will make it harder for students to adjust and catch up. 

Additionally, teachers will still need personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer, and extra supplies so students don’t have to share. Most PreK-12 children aren’t yet eligible to be vaccinated, so keeping classrooms hygienic to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is still important.

Teachers need your support to make this return to the classroom a success. Your gift will support students and teachers who need COVID-19 relief most. 

Disaster Relief Fund for COVID-19 – Focus on Districts to Maximize Impact.

Our focus continues to be getting tools in the hands of students now so teachers can get back to teaching. Because technology tools need to be compatible across schools and districts to be effective, we are working with district leaders across the country to identify cost-effective tools that are compatible with district-wide systems and computer-based curriculum programs. To maximize our impact, we are focusing initially on just a few high needs districts that have clear plans for rapidly rolling out distance learning, and clearly articulated priorities for where those resources will be distributed to have the greatest impact.

Our vendor partners are facilitating rapid, bulk purchasing and shipping of laptop computers at greatly discounted prices. At this time, there is not a way for districts or educators to apply for funds, but we will expand our support to more school districts across the country as funds become available. Your donation to our Disaster Relief Fund will be used to meet the needs of high-needs students quickly and effectively, learn more here.

Flexible Funding for Educators.’s platform has always provided teachers and schools with the flexibility to order exactly what they need for their students, and a full year to spend each donation. Donors who contribute directly to an individual teacher or school get a list of exactly what was purchased. Donors to our Spotlight Funds get sample stories from teachers who received grants. So what’s different now? 

  • Educators can request an extension of time to spend donations. 
  • Where schools are not open to accept deliveries, we are working with school districts to arrange delivery and pickup locations so teachers can access supplies.
  • While our Disaster Relief Fund for COVID-19 is currently prioritizing grants to districts to support distance learning for high-needs students, we will be doing a call for grants applications from high-needs teachers during the Summer months. To receive more information about this opportunity later in the year, we encourage teachers to register their classroom here.

Your donations to individual teachers or to our Spotlight Funds will continue to provide essential, flexible funding for teachers and their students. Read more about our commitment to educators during this time here.

Disaster Relief Fund COVID-19 Updates has identified The Watts Family of Schools, in South Los Angeles as one of several groups of schools across the country that we are focusing our efforts on during the coronavirus pandemic. To give you an update on our relief efforts we spoke with Ashley, a teacher at Flournoy Elementary School & STEAM Magnet, about the need her students face right now. 

Ashley’s school community is one of the highest-poverty neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Many of her students come from families that live paycheck to paycheck and 100% identify as Latinx or African American. 

Even before the coronavirus pandemic they were vulnerable, and this hardship is a devastating blow. It also means that many can’t afford the laptops needed to connect to Ashley and other students while sheltering in place.

Ashley told us that her students are incredibly resilient. “Not only do they come to school every morning regardless of their circumstances, but they are also creative, intelligent, and ready to engage and grow.” COVID-19 Relief donors are putting tech into the hands of Ashley’s students so they can keep showing up to school (from home!) as their creative and intelligent selves every day.  

Thank you so much to the incredible COVID-19 Relief donors who have already contributed to support Ashley’s students and many others. We will keep you up to date with stories from educators on the “front lines”  as the situation progresses and we are able to reach more teachers and students across the country. 

Your donation to will help us continue to support educators and their students through these challenging times. Because learning can’t stop. We are so grateful for your support!

If you have any questions about or our Disaster Relief Fund, please contact [email protected].


Disaster Relief Fund COVID-19 Update, June 2020

Within the past few months, has disbursed COVID-19 Disaster Relief funds to several high-needs schools and hundreds of teachers across the country. 

To help students access their education from home, we worked with our partner Staples to provide Chromebooks to students at three schools in The Watts Family of Schools in South Los Angeles, and at two schools in Chicago. 

Parent picking up Chromebook at Ellington Elementary School in Chicago, IL

“Receiving this Chromebook will truly help my child finish his school year strong! I am very happy and grateful for this support.”

 Parent of Ellington Elementary School Student in Chicago, IL

Access to Distance Learning tools like Chromebooks is essential for students to connect with their teachers, engage in their learning, and complete assignments while at home. Yet, many students, particularly those who attend high-needs schools, do not have what they need to succeed due to budgetary constraints, lack of internet access, and other barriers brought on or exacerbated by COVID-19. 

In a recent survey of teachers, 43% of teachers said their students were disengaged with Distance Learning, and 49% of teachers said their disengaged students did not have access to technology at home. 85% of teachers said their disengaged students did not have a parent or guardian who could oversee their education during Distance Learning.

Ashley is one of the educators in Watts who received Chromebooks through the COVID-19 Relief Fund. 

“It’s been a really tough transition for us,” Ashley said. “Not because our students and teachers aren’t capable, but because there are a lot of structures in place that make it difficult for families. A lot of our parents are essential workers so they’re not able to be home very much, and a lot of our families don’t have internet access or devices, so the Chromebooks that were provided by are really helping get our students connected.” 

Beyond helping kids stay connected, access to technology can also expand possibilities for students and introduce them to new ideas. With their Chromebooks, Ashley’s students were not only able to stay engaged in their learning, they were also able to explore new possibilities for their futures. 

“With the Chromebooks we are able to use an app called Tinker which helps kids start coding and doing engineering work,” Ashley explained. “Because of this, some students have said they might want a career in engineering or coding, whereas before, without the exposure, they didn’t have that in their minds. Technology gives our students the opportunity to see what they can be and what they’re capable of. It helps them set better goals.” 

This spring, also gave COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund Grants to 190 teachers to help them purchase the Distance Learning tools and resources they need for their students now, and at the start of the coming school year. 

“Thank you so very much for your support. I was able to make packages full of school supplies, books, and snacks for each child in my class. The children and their families were so excited and appreciate your kindness.”- Marianne, Elementary School Teacher in Poughkeepsie, NY

Thank you to all of the generous donors who gave to the COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund. You helped make it possible for hundreds of high-needs students across the country to keep learning during this challenging time.