Diversity & Inclusion
COVID-19 / Digital access

These community center learning pods in Wilmington will stay open through the summer

United Way and Comcast will keep five "Lift Zone" learning pods open to fight the digital and education gaps in low-income neighborhoods.

A mural at Kingswood Community Center in Riverside. (Photo via Facebook)

A program offering access to Wi-Fi and a safe, hands-on learning experience to kids from under-resourced neighborhoods is continuing.

In October 2020, United Way of Delaware and Wilmington Community Advisory Council received $90,000 in CARES Act funds to launch learning pods at 12 community organizations, an amount that has been matched by the Longwood Foundation. The pods came during a time when closed schools and mandated virtual learning were leaving Black and brown communities behind.

In March, Comcast also committed $1 billion over 10 years in support of nationwide digital equity, which included providing free Wi-Fi to eight New Castle County community centers, including several that had launched the learning pods, as part of its Lift Zone program.

Now, as the school year is coming to an end, the orgs are partnering at the same time students are at risk of falling into the summer opportunity gap (which is an issue every summer) just as they are starting to catch up during a first-of-its-kind year.

The Delaware Racial Justice Collaborative (DRJC), a statewide group of community-based organizations committed to eliminating systemic racism in Delaware and overseen by the United Way of Delaware, has announced that some of those pods, including the five in high-needs Comcast Lift Zones, will continue to serve students after the school year ends.

The collaborative “has been supporting learning pods across Delaware from the beginning of the pandemic,” said Michelle Taylor, United Way of Delaware president and CEO, in a statement. “With the help of corporate partners, the state’s school districts, and our agency partners, the DRJC is helping keep 27 learning pods active through the end of the 2021 school year. And we plan to keep as many open as possible this summer to help children catch up on academic assignments they may have missed during this unusual school year. Without internet access, none of this would be possible.”

The five learning pods now designated as Comcast Lift Zones, all in Wilmington, are:

  • Clarence Fraim Boys & Girls Club
  • Latin American Community Center
  • Kingswood Community Center
  • Bellevue Community Center
  • West End Neighborhood House

“The pandemic has put many low-income families at risk of being left behind, and we’re proud to work with community partners to support them with internet adoption and digital equity programs like this one,” said Jim Samaha, SVP of Comcast’s Freedom Region. “We hope these Lift Zones help New Castle County families stay connected to vital resources.”

Companies: Comcast / United Way of Central Maryland

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