After teaming up to support schools during virtual learning, Charlottesville City Schools’ parent-teacher organizations raised $56,500 in the last month and two area foundations are offering to match community contributions.
The Bama Works Fund of Dave Matthews Band and The Smith Family “Always Am” Fund have committed to donating $25,000 each if the community can raise an additional $25,000, the parents organizing the reopening fund announced Tuesday. The matching grants would bring an extra $75,000 to the fund.
In the month since the fund was announced, more than 100 community members and local businesses have donated, including Tiger Fuel.
“As an essential business, we feel it is important to give back to the communities that we serve,” Tiger Fuel president Gordon Sutton said in a news release. “While COVID-19 has been a challenge for all of us, we’d like to do everything we can to ensure students in Charlottesville have high-quality learning experiences and are given every opportunity to succeed.”
The PTOs decided to establish a central fund through the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation in order to ensure that each school and family has what they need to be successful for virtual learning.
Charlottesville schools started the school year with online classes last week. The Albemarle County school division also started the school year mostly online.
Money from the fund is distributed to each school based on the percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price meals. About 44% of the division’s students are considered economically disadvantaged.
The first round of fund disbursements have been sent to the schools where committees made up a member of the school’s PTO, a teacher, administrator and an equity committee representative have decided how to spend it.
So far, expenses have included headphones, manipulatives, books, supplies for home classrooms, assistance to families for virtual learning center tuition, according to the news release. Allocations will be reported on the Fund’s website and can be found at ccsptofund.org/donate-copy.
Fund organizers noted in the release that as families settle into virtual learning, new needs will emerge and that the financial stressors facing some families will only increase.
“We appreciate our parents’ and community’s incredibly generous support and hard work,” said T. Denise Johnson, the division’s supervisor of equity and inclusion, in a news release. “Ensuring every student has the materials and resources they need for equitable participation in the virtual model is imperative and crucial during this time.”