With an estimated 145,000 students in Hillsborough County relying on free or reduced-price lunch, and in turn free school supplies, Hillsborough Education Foundation is dedicated to ensuring our most vulnerable students have access to the necessary technology and supplies to learn from home due to COVID-19.
“This is a challenging time for all families, but especially those who have limited resources, lack of ability to purchase supplies as well as lack of technology,” said Hillsborough Education Foundation CEO Kim Jowell. “We had to close our Teaching Tools Resource Center for those reasons of limitations of crowds, but we’re adapting to make sure students get what they need. Our highest priority are those highest needs schools.”
While teachers and administrators at Palm River Elementary School distributed devices to families during the district’s “Set Up for Success Week,” they also provided students in need with school supplies—thanks to support from Hillsborough Education Foundation.
“The Hillsborough Education Foundation made sure that our boys and girls have pencils, paper—everything that they need,” said Palm River Elementary School Principal Frankye Bulmer. “We want to make sure we have them ready for learning with our online eLearning platform, and they’re going to do an amazing job.”
Principal Bulmer explained that many of her students rely on supplies from the school during the year, so continuing to receive the free supplies even while eLearning will be a tremendous help.
“When they get the supplies, they’re all happy and excited because some of our boys and girls don’t have pencils and paper at home because that’s something that we furnish at our school, so having that extra help is really amazing for us,” Bulmer said. “With Hillsborough Education Foundation giving us those basics, they don’t have to worry about the things that we’re giving them at home, so we appreciate it so much.”
Palm River Elementary is one of more than 90 schools that Hillsborough Education Foundation has provided resources and supplies to in response to COVID-19. As the district adapts to changes and introduces eLearning, HEF is working to ensure at-risk students are supported with technology, online access and supplies. So far, more than 19,000 students have been served.
Carlos, a father of four Hillsborough County Public Schools students, said receiving the devices and supplies “feels like Christmas” to parents who may be concerned about how their children will learn from home.
“It’s amazing because without the equipment they’re just sitting at home and you have to basically figure out how to get through the day,” Carlos said. “With this, now we have structure, we have assistance. I have four kids in the car, so the fact that we have all these supplies for them now and they’re able to do stuff—not only are they happy but I am as well, and we can continue to get the work done. I’m greatly appreciative, and they are too.”
Ja’Khil, a seventh grader who recently received his device, said now that he is equipped with the necessary tools to learn from home, he feels prepared to begin classes this week.
“I just don’t have a lot of supplies or paper, so now I can just have all my supplies and be ready to work. I’m picking up the laptop now and I’m ready to do the online school,” Ja’Khil said.
To make a contribution that will help ensure the most vulnerable students we serve have the resources and supplies they need during this unprecedented time in education, visit educationfoundation.com/donate.