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UMass Medical School providing aid to Worcester Public Schools summer learning program

Wireless hotspots, software and books will connect families to remote classes through North Quadrant Support Services initiative

Worcester Superintendent of Schools Maureen Binienda is pictured speaking with Chancellor Michael F. Collins (center) and Assistant Vice Chancellor Kola Akindele during a 2018 North Quadrant Support Services event.

The UMass Medical School North Quadrant Support Services initiative is donating funds to support Worcester Public Schools in direct response to the COVID-19 school shutdown. UMMS will provide internet access to students to help them catch up via remote learning opportunities. The donation was announced by Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty on behalf of Superintendent of Schools Maureen Binienda at the city’s daily COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, June 9.

“We know how important it is for students to remain connected to education, particularly through the summer months and consistent and reliable internet access for all students is a must. I want to thank Chancellor Michael Collins and UMass Medical School for their commitment to purchase a hot spot for every family in the North Quadrant,” said Mayor Petty. “This is about fairness and equity and we know that lack of internet access disproportionately affects our economically disadvantaged urban cores and rural areas.”

Depending on final costs, approximately $80,000 to $90,000 from UMMS will secure a wireless hotspot service for every family in the North Quadrant identified as needing one. Funds will also pay for books, software and staff time required to run a virtual summer school program for kindergarten and first grade students. With a focus on reading readiness, a package of age-appropriate books will be purchased and delivered to each child’s home.

The North Quadrant includes some of the city’s most economically challenged neighborhoods. UMMS established the support services initiative in 2017 with grant funding from the Remillard Family Community Service Fund to help address socioeconomic barriers to academic success faced by many of the area’s K–12 students.

“We’ve been committed to the Worcester Public Schools for more than 20 years and are happy to continue to meet the district’s needs in a different way as the community has been impacted by COVID-19,” said Kola Akindele, JD, assistant vice chancellor for city and community relations in the Office of Community and Government Relations. “Providing students with resources to overcome lack of access to remote learning is one way we can fulfill our mission at this time.”

With additional funding available through the generosity of UMMS students and staff who directed their employee giving campaign donations to the North Quadrant Support Services initiative, UMMS has funded a variety of services and programs since its inception. These have included mini-grants for classroom enrichment, a school food pantry, laundry facilities and backpacks filled with school supplies.

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