During times of crisis, communities need the most help, and SPEF has been there for Stamford since the outbreak of COVID-19. We are proud of the accomplishments we have made in easing the most urgent needs, such as food insecurity, academic support, and access to community resources.
NAVIGATING THROUGH A PANDEMIC
It began in March 2020, when SPEF quickly stepped in to support the Stamford Public School District’s Grab-and-Go Meals program. SPEF efficiently and effectively organized a roster of volunteers who distributed meals for students throughout our community. From April through September, over 60 SPEF Grab-and-Go Meals volunteers contributed nearly 2,000 volunteer hours, helping to distribute 434,000 meals. Go #SPEFSquad!
At the same time, SPEF activated its Books Across Stamford program. Volunteers gave away nearly 1,800 new books at 11 locations. The program continued into the following school year as SPEF partnered with the Ferguson Library and Stamford Recreation to safely distribute 700 new books to over 200 children. This past summer, Books Across Stamford’s Summer Series visited over 20 summer camps and community organizations and distributed more than 2,500 books to more than 1,000 children.
In spring 2020, SPEF introduced its Home Work Helpers program, which complemented the distance learning initiatives provided by the district. It offered free online academic help for students in elementary school, Monday through Friday. Children received support across all subjects, including math, English/reading, science, and history. More than 50 elementary students were paired with SPEF volunteers during the fall 2020 semester. “This experience has been great for my daughter. The one-on-one sessions have been helpful to her. Her tutor is very patient and kind, and my daughter is comfortable asking her questions and really enjoys participating in the sessions each week.”
The COVID-19 pandemic also heightened the need for SPEF to expand its tutoring program to support disadvantaged students who have been disproportionately affected by the distance learning education model implemented during this public health crisis. By employing professional tutors and tailoring a curriculum uniquely designed to meet individual students’ needs, SPEF provides one-on-one tutoring sessions to each student in TutorU. Sessions take place twice per week, with each session focusing on either math or English. During the 2020-21 school year, SPEF’s professional tutors worked with over 100 high school students, delivering more than 15,000 hours of free tutoring. For many, this work has continued through the summer and into the new school year.
Working alongside the Stamford Public Schools District, in November 2020, SPEF launched its Here-to-Help family engagement network. This unique service connects individual families with information to enhance school engagement and provides access community resources needed to help a student succeed. The Here-to-Help network has also been instrumental in assisting chronically absent students in re-engaging in virtual and classroom learning by reaching out, identifying barriers to learning, and delivering solutions.
COVID-19 impacted our community’s youngest learners. With schools shutting down across the city, many children could not have a preschool or kindergarten experience. In August, SPEF concluded its Summer Start 2021 program, providing 163 preschoolers with engaging classroom activities, combined with theme-based, hands-on projects and fun field trips to build math and literacy skills, all following Connecticut Core State Standards. Preschoolers had an opportunity to learn classroom routines while interacting socially with fellow rising SPS students. The Summer Start experience helps lessen the anxiety and stress children may have when starting their first formal schooling.