Santa Ynez Valley schools have received a boost to help meet the unique challenges of distance learning, courtesy of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Foundation.
The foundation announced Tuesday that it has delivered $100,000 to local schools. The funds are aimed at helping educators meet the high-tech needs and the various challenges that remote learning has presented to start the 2020-21 school year.
The Remote Learning Resources grants were determined based on each school’s expressed need and its student enrollment. Santa Ynez Valley High School, which enrolls 853 students, received the top amount of $32,175, said Veronica V. Sandoval, spokeswoman for the foundation.
The high school has taken a creative approach in recent weeks to reduce the distance some students may be feeling as they learn from home.
“This donation to our school district has allowed us to fund a ‘community liaison’ position that will provide a critical point of contact with, and support for, valley families that are experiencing unique struggles with facilitating distance learning for their children,” Scott Cory, Superintendent of the Santa Ynez Valley High Union School District, said in a statement. “The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians continues to be amazing community partners with us.”
The grant program was developed to help students address some of the unforeseen costs caused by COVID-19 restrictions. Along with SYVHS, 11 other schools receive donations, including: Ballard Elementary; Dunn High School; Dunn Middle School; Jonata Middle School; Los Olivos Elementary; Oak Valley Elementary; Santa Ynez Charter School; Santa Ynez Elementary; Santa Ynez Valley Christian Academy; Solvang Elementary; and The Family School.
The grants ranged from $2,500 up to $14,625, Ms. Sandoval said.
The donations to Oak Valley Elementary and Jonata Middle School will be used to help students gain internet access, said Randal Haggard, superintendent of the Buellton Union School District.
“We have students who live on ranches and in areas that have shadow spots for cell service and wifi access, and connecting those families can be a significant expense,” Mr. Haggard said in a statement. “These funds will help defray some of those costs. Also, it was the tribe’s generosity that helped us kick-start our one-to-one technology program, so this donation will be another shot in the arm for that effort.”
Mr. Haggard added that the donations show the strength of the local community and is a testament to supporting the local youth.
“At a time when we probably use the word unprecedented too frequently, this is truly a situation we’ve never experienced before,” Mr. Haggard said of distance learning during a pandemic. “A donation like this meets the immediate needs. I can’t say enough about how grateful we are to have our community reaching out and being a safety net during this incredibly difficult time.”
Over the years, the Chumash foundation has donated more than $25 million to hundreds of groups, organizations and schools as part of the tribe’s long-standing tradition of giving. Tribal Chairman Kenneth Kahn said the foundation’s board has been inspired by the extraordinary lengths schools have gone to ensure students can succeed given the current learning environment.
“Our tribe places a high value on education, and we felt it was important to help our local schools with additional funds during these challenging times,” Mr. Kahn said in a statement. “We’re proud to be part of a community that will go the extra mile to meet the educational needs for our future leaders and innovators.”