By Lurdes C. da Silva / O Jornal editor — Posted Apr 16, 2020 at 3:43 PM
NEW BEDFORD – The lack of technology at home has been a big challenge for some local immigrant families with school aged children, says Helena Hughes, the executive director of the Immigrants’ Assistance Center of New Bedford.
“The lack of technology is a huge barrier for children who do not speak English as a first language,” said Hughes. “Even ELLs (English Language Learners) who excel in school can now fall behind because they do not have the proper tools for online learning.”
Thanks to a $15,000 grant from Senator Mark Montigny’s Children’s Equality and Empowerment Fund, the IAC will soon be providing assistance to New Bedford underprivileged elementary school aged children who are experiencing trouble accessing technology, food insecurity or need some enriching resources to keep engaged.
Initially created in 2017 by Sen. Montigny (D-New Bedford), the Children’s Equality and Empowerment Fund helps solve pressing needs with funding secured as part of the Commonwealth’s annual appropriations process.
“Right now families are facing enormous challenges, which can have a significant impact on a child’s day-to-day wellbeing as well as their long-term development,” said Sen. Montigny. “We’ve deployed the Children’s Fund as an emergency safety net to reach those who are being hit hardest by this crisis to address food insecurity and barriers to technology and learning. Helena and her team at the Immigrants’ Assistance Center have a proven track record of providing vital resources in our community so it was an absolute no-brainer to partner with them on this effort.”
Hughes said the IAC will use the grant to purchase Chromebook laptops to access online learning, educational materials and supplies and food resources to stabilize nutrition and promote learning.
According to Sen. Montigny, priority must be given to children with limited means, including youth who may not have access to forms of traditional public assistance.
The IAC staff is currently in the process of identifying families who can benefit from this grant. Hughes said the center has decided to assist elementary school aged children because she was informed by New Bedford Public Schools officials that high school and middle school students already have Chromebook laptops.
Her staff will also be contacting Comcast to assure that all families who receive laptops will have access to the free internet offered by this provider during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“We are trying to do our best during this craziness,” Hughes said.
Read the article online: https://www.heraldnews.com/news/20200416/montigny-delivers-15k-grant-to-iac-for-underpriviledged-kids