Grant gives students hands-on technology training to keep up in school
Sarasota, Florida – October 8, 2013 – With a $20,000 grant from the Comcast Foundation, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County will accelerate a new digital literacy initiative to reach young people at agencies across the county. As a result, hundreds of students will gain access to high-quality digital tools, training and tutoring in safe, supportive environments during the 2013-2014 school year.
With the Comcast Foundation funds, the Education Foundation’s Texcellence Program will launch its newest Digital Learning Lab in partnership with Alta Vista Elementary School. The lab will be used by more than 115 students who attend Alta Vista’s A+ Adventure Club after-school program.
The first Education Foundation Digital Learning Lab was installed in April to enrich Laurel Civic Association’s after-school, weekend, and summer programs. Other Digital Learning Labs are planned for at least ten locations, including YMCA’s Triad sites, Sarasota Housing Authority, Sarasota County Libraries, Boys and Girls Clubs, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
Susan Scott, Executive Director of the Education Foundation, announced the grant. “Even with the success of our Texcellence computer donation program, we found that an alarming number of students still have limited or no access to digital technology outside the classroom,” she said. “Having this Comcast Foundation grant means we will be able to reach so many more young people who need these tools and are incredibly motivated to learn with them – with a little help from caring adults.”
Derek Cooper, Vice President of Government and Community Affairs for Florida, said, “The Education Foundation of Sarasota County has partnered with Comcast for many years to help students and their families bridge the digital divide by participating in our Internet Essentials program. We are delighted to support this ground-breaking initiative to ensure that every child in Sarasota County can acquire the digital literacy skills they need to succeed in school and in life.”
Comcast also sponsors the group’s annual Evening of Excellence student art program. In addition, the company’s local employees volunteer on school remodel and improvement projects through “Comcast Cares Day.”
Over the past six years, the Education Foundation’s Texcellence program has taken one teacher’s vision and scaled it up to reach every neighborhood in the district. A collaboration between the foundation and Sarasota County Schools that is supported by private donations and grants, Texcellence is recognized as a national model for public/private partnerships, giving families the digital tools they need to support their students’ academic achievement.
Since 2007, a total of 6,621 Sarasota County students in need have received a home computer, training for the family, and ongoing low-cost technical support. Since 2011, every Texcellence family has also qualified for a discounted subscription at $10 per month through Comcast’s Internet Essentials program.
But students were still being left behind, according to Scott. For some families even the discounted internet services are out of reach. Many students need a more structured digital environment outside of school hours to keep up with classmates, learn basic keyboarding and computing skills, and prepare for post-secondary education and careers.
To meet the needs of those students, with seed funding from the Dart Foundation and Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the Education Foundation’s Texcellence Task Force developed the Digital Learning Labs concept earlier this year. “We will still be distributing home computers through Texcellence,” says task force chairman Jason Swift. “Students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches can still sign up for a recycled laptop online or through their schools. But Digital Literacy Learning Labs give us a powerful new platform to get kids excited about learning, and Comcast’s $20,000 will be a big help in meeting our goals this year.”
For more information about Texcellence and Digital Learning Labs, visit www.texcellence.org or contact Jennifer Sams at 941-927-0965.
About the Comcast Foundation
The Comcast Foundation was founded by Comcast Corporation in 1999 to provide charitable support to qualified non-profit organizations. The Foundation primarily invests in programs intended to have a positive, sustainable impact on their communities. The Foundation has three community investment priorities—promoting service, expanding digital literacy, and building tomorrow’s leaders. Since its inception, the Comcast Foundation has donated more than $130 million to organizations in the communities nationwide that Comcast serves. More information about the Foundation and its programs is available at www.comcast.com/community. For more information, visit http://corporate.comcast.com/our-values/community-investment. Connect with Comcast Community Investment at www.facebook.com/WePowerDreams. Follow us on Twitter @comcastdreambig.
About the Education Foundation of Sarasota County
Dedicated to quality education for all children, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County is an independent, not-for-profit organization that works in partnership with the community and Sarasota County public schools. With the support of individuals, families, companies and foundations, the Education Foundation awards more than a million dollars each year to initiatives including Texcellence / Digital Literacy, the Regional Science, Engineering and Technology Fair, Teacher of the Year, Academic Olympics, classroom grants, fine arts programs, and literacy initiatives to help struggling readers. For more information, visit www.EdFoundation.net or call 941-927-0965.