Our Digital Learning Initiative empowers our students to harness the power of technology and Internet/WiFi to be able to participate in online learning and develop crucial 21st-century skills. The ultimate goal of our initiative is to bridge the digital divide and provide equitable access to our students who would not have access otherwise.
Our online tutors use a live, online classroom in which students and tutors interact through audio, video, and a shared whiteboard. This type of tutoring was started in 2014 in response to the need to reach students located beyond our in-person service areas. Now, online tutoring has become a central part of our organization since the COVID-19 outbreak. While BigBlueButton is our main online tutoring software, students without robust Internet and technology utilize other tools such as FaceTime and Google Duo to connect with their tutors. Between March and July of this year, 600 students were matched with an online tutor. That number continues to grow weekly.
Our initiative also helps in the following ways:
We are currently in regular communication with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, the California State Department of Education and local school districts to strategize on how students experiencing homelessness can obtain regular access to reliable Internet as they are required to attend schooling online due to the ongoing pandemic. Unfortunately, as of July 2020, approximately 35% of partner sites that we serve still lacked adequate Internet access. We will continue to update this page as new information is available
Level Up Digital Literacy Program
Our Level Up Digital Literacy Program provides our students with essential skills to participate in digital spaces and succeed in school and beyond. Topics covered by the program include evaluating internet sources, composing documents, protecting personal data, and respectfully participating in online conversations. In today’s digital world, nearly every career requires digital communication in some capacity, so equipping our students with the skills to effectively and responsibly find, evaluate, communicate, and share online content is key to their futures.
We partner with STEAM-focused (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) companies and organizations to provide our students with tools, resources, and activities to engage in hands-on, project-based learning and develop key 21st-century skills. These are especially important today as schools continue to close due to the pandemic.
Digital Learning Platforms
We provide access to digital programs that engage students, fill academic gaps, and teach critical technology skills. The platforms include Freckle (K-12; ELA, Math), Teach Your Monster to Read (K-2; phonics, spelling, reading), Code.org (K-12; coding, computer science), TypingClub (K-12; touch typing), and Khan Academy (K-12; multiple subjects). Our tutors use our digital learning platforms during their online sessions and can track their students’ usage and progress throughout the week through robust coaching and reporting features.
Digital Learning Centers
Our Digital Learning Centers are designated and repurposed spaces at shelters, schools, and motels where students have access to robust technological tools, high-speed Internet, digital learning, and educational resources. These centers are adaptable and can be designed with any combination of tools and programs based on specific student needs per location. As of March 2020, these centers are temporarily closed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
While 83% of children ages 3 to 18 have access to a laptop or computer device at their primary residence, only 19% of children ages 3 to 18 experiencing homelessness do. The purpose of our BRIDGE (Bridging Resources to Increase Digital Growth and Equity) Program is to provide our students with a Chromebook or laptop device if they are unable to obtain one through their school districts. With access to their own device, our students can develop crucial digital literacy skills, complete their schoolwork and online assignments, and connect with a tutor through our online tutoring program. Since March and in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, we have provided over 400 devices to students.