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Grants Will Aid Online Learning in Local Districts

Foundations purchasing devices for McKeesport, Duquesne, EA, other schools

By Richard Finch Jr.
The Tube City Almanac
May 18, 2020
Posted in: Duquesne News, McKeesport and Region News, North Versailles Twp. News

McKeesport Area School District and six others will benefit from $350,000 in grants awarded to Allegheny Intermediate Unit.

The money includes a $200,000 grant from the Heinz Endowments to be used to purchase Chromebooks and Google licenses and an additional $150,000 from the Grable Foundation for electronic devices, as well as professional development for teachers and administrative professionals.

More than 1,700 devices will be distributed between McKeesport, Duquesne City, Penn Hills, East Allegheny, Highlands, Cornell and Wilkinsburg school districts, AIU said.

AIU said the grant to purchase learning devices is expected to “enhance students’ access to online instruction and mitigate learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rosanne Javorsky, AIU interim executive director, said the intermediate unit is grateful to the Grable Foundation and the Heinz Endowments for their continued support of public education.

“While we are humbled by the recognition of our regional leadership, it is through the collaboration with school leaders that we are able to have an impact on thousands of children, youth and families in Allegheny County,” she said.

The grant follows recent contributions from area non-profits to McKeesport Area and other districts to ensure students have the necessary electronic devices and internet access required to participate in the virtual learning process.

McKeesport Area School District expects to receive about 300 devices, said Kristen James, spokeswoman.

“We are thankful to both the AIU3 and the Heinz Endowments for their work to help our school district,” she said. “In a school district with financial challenges like ours, additional devices are an important key to continue providing a high quality education to our students.  We recognize that virtual learning can create potential hardships for families and we will continue to work to fill those voids.”

On May 4, MASD officials announced a partnership between Penn State Greater Allegheny and McKeesport’s Healthy Village Learning Institute to provide no-cost virtual tutoring sessions for students and professional development programs for parents.

Spokespersons for Duquesne and East Allegheny could not be reached for comment.

The recent round of funding is an extension of the Grable Foundation’s efforts to support educational initiatives in public schools, said Gregg Behr, executive director. “What happens in our schools may be forever changed by this pandemic,” Behr said. “We’re grateful for this collective opportunity to support local districts right now and also to support educators regionally as they make plans for very different school years ahead.”

Richard Finch Jr. is a freelance writer who covers McKeesport Area School District, White Oak and a variety of other topics for Tube City Almanac. He may be reached at finchr43@gmail.com.

Originally published May 18, 2020.

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