A group of local education stakeholders has established an e-learning fund—already stocked with $2.6 million—to be used to aid Indianapolis educators, students and families as they shift to online learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Indianapolis E-Learning Fund will support the immediate needs of schools and students with limited access to technology and long-term e-learning solutions, including the launch of an e-learning lab that will be open to all schools statewide.
The lab would serve as a place for educators to share best practices and advice.
The Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation will administer the fund, and the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee will serve as the fiscal agent, city officials announced Wednesday. A committee of seven Marion County education and community leaders will advise the office on funding allocations.
The statewide closure of K-12 schools in Indiana through the rest of the school year has required students, families, teachers and administrators to rapidly implement plans for full-scale remote learning. While some schools in Marion County used e-learning for inclement weather days, none have used it long-term to educate students.
“Already, students, teachers and parents have worked miracles to ensure that education remains a top priority during this difficult time. Solutions for e-learning are on the horizon for all schools in Marion County,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said in a media release. “It is my hope that this fund will give every family, school, and teacher the tools they need to educate all students in Indianapolis.”
The fund will be used to help ensure that schools and districts implement effective solutions. It will address four focus areas:
Technology access: Support for Marion County traditional public, public charter and innovation network schools to address short-term needs for accessing devices and internet connectivity for students from low-income families and for students who live in communities with unreliable access to the internet and/or limited broadband capacity.
County-wide e-learning strategy: Support for the development of a county-wide strategy for e-learning that will identify supports needed and address both immediate and long-term needs.
County-wide social-emotional learning strategy: Support for the development of a county-wide strategy for social-emotional learning needs for students, both while at home and upon their transition back to the school building, whenever that happens.
Statewide e-learning lab: Support for the launch of an e-learning lab for all schools in the state. The lab will provide early e-learning adopters a platform for sharing best practices with all schools, as well as professional development opportunities to support teachers and administrators. The lab will also equip students and families with the necessary tools for the successful implementation of remote learning.
The advisory committee plans to begin work immediately to survey superintendents about their needs to build a comprehensive needs assessment before doling out funds to meet acute short-term needs.
Founding funding partners of the Indianapolis E-Learning Fund include the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Eli Lilly & Co. Foundation, the Cummins Foundation, EdChoice, Emmis Communications, Glick Philanthropies, The Heritage Group, The Indianapolis Foundation, the Indianapolis Public Library Fund, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indiana Charter School Network, the Institute for Quality Education, Lilly Endowment Inc., the Lumina Foundation, The Mind Trust, The OneAmerica Foundation Inc., Salesforce, the Telamon Foundation and United Way of Central Indiana.
“Not all students have access to devices or reliable internet connectivity,” Claire Fiddian-Green, president and CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, said in a media release. “The Indianapolis E-Learning Fund will help address acute short-term needs not covered by federal stimulus funds and will also support the development of a longer-term e-learning strategy.”