When COVID-19 upended our lives last year, YWCA had to pivot our services. Not only did we limit in-person interactions, but the needs of our program participants changed and intensified.
COVID-19 forced everything from school to work completely online. Suddenly, the lack of multiple computers or strong internet was hitting families harder than ever. Once stay at home orders took effect, the challenge of balancing your work with your child’s education became even more difficult, especially for BIPOC families.
GREENBRIDGE: STAYING CONNECTED IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE
In past years, our Greenbridge Learning Center offered a robust range of culturally relevant services such as career development, English literacy, vocational training, computer classes, and youth development to about 5,000 community members in White Center a year.
One of the changes brought on by COVID-19 was that our Greenbridge staff had to immediately shift their work, particularly around technology and internet access. Through a partnership with Comcast Washington called Lift Zones, Greenbridge now provides free Internet connectivity to the community both in and around the center.
Additionally, after hearing from adult program participants who were struggling to help their children with schoolwork, Greenbridge began offering virtual tutoring through the Youth Opportunity Program. By employing high school juniors and seniors as tutors, Greenbridge is helping the children of working adults with tutoring in English, Math, and Basic Sciences.
Tutors also offer homework assistance and after-class academic supervision. This program allows caregivers and parents to stay focused on their work, assists them with language barriers as needed, and provides critical community resources so that BIPOC students don’t fall even further behind.
Imagine not having access to Wi-Fi or technology during a pandemic, or experiencing a language barrier while helping trying to help your children with remote schooling. All families should have access to the same resources.
Nothing about the pandemic has been equitable. But when we focus on helping those who need it most—like our community members at Greenbridge Learning Center—we help put balance back into the systems and infrastructure that drive inequities.
Annalee Schafranek is the Marketing & Editorial Director at YWCA. She contributes agency news, press releases, and media coverage to the website. Annalee’s educational and professional experience has always focused on the place where gender equity and media meet.
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