Every Monday since schools closed as a result of the statewide stay-at-home order, The Project School in Bloomington has organized a curbside pick-up opportunity for students and their parents.
In the first weeks, according to Amy Jackson, philanthropy and outreach director for The Project School (TPS), this included an opportunity for families needing access to technology to pick up devices for their children. “Wi-Fi services were also arranged for a handful of families who did not previously have home access,” Jackson says.
Families are provided with all school meals for their children for the week, as well as weekly printed distance learning materials for families wanting or needing those. “We have about 30% of our families coming each Monday for these pickup opportunities,” Jackson says.
On Monday, April 27, the distribution was more substantive, Jackson explains. The staff, she says, spent several days collecting personal items belonging to the school’s students, including items from their lockers and cubbies, artwork, notebooks, and more. School staff followed physical distancing protocols during the collection and distribution of the materials.
“Virtually all of our families then came through the line,” Jackson says. “Families were particularly encouraged on this Monday to bring their kids in the car so that they could have the opportunity to see a majority of the staff all together. … It was such a beautiful moment—so many smiles, waves, and kisses blown.”
Jackson says the school polled families at the beginning of the pandemic and used that data to determine which families are experiencing food insecurity beyond the need for school meals. “Since then,” Jackson says, “we have been providing specific families with weekly Kroger gift cards, enough for $25 per household member per week for all household members, not just the children enrolled at TPS.” So far, TPS has provided between $1,200–$1,500 in gift cards per week to struggling families, adding families as needed.
“Our goal is to continue providing these gift cards through May,” Jackson says, “or later if resources allow.” Funding has been provided by donations from school families as well as a $2,500 grant from the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County Rapid Response Program, which finances the program through May 8, Jackson says. TPS will be applying to the United Way of Monroe County for additional funding to help continue the program through May.
“We have a deep commitment to TPS families, and it is imperative to us that we wrap ourselves around struggling families to get as many resources to them as possible,” Jackson says.
To make a tax-deductible donation—100% of which will be put toward food for struggling TPS families—visit the school’s giving portal at theprojectschool.org.