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NJ Pandemic Relief Fund Supports BIG Dreams

 

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*Pictures Prior to Pandemic

 

The New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund (NJPRF) announced that it will provide $177,000 to Red Bank Borough Public Schools to help students stay connected during hybrid and remote learning.

The New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund (NJPRF) was created to address the economic, social and medical impact of COVID-19 on New Jersey’s most vulnerable citizens. Since March, the NJPRF has raised $37 million and provided over $19 million in aid to 460 non-profits in all 21 counties in New Jersey. Over 60,000 donors from across every county in New Jersey, every state in the United States, and eleven countries have donated to NJPRF. Thanks to the generous underwriting of administrative expenses, every dollar raised by NJPRF has gone directly to those in need.

Red Bank is one of only nine districts across New Jersey sharing more than $2.6 million from the NJPRF to help bridge the digital divide exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced many New Jersey school districts to switch to hybrid and remote learning. School districts in Newark, Paterson, Bridgeton, Freehold, Millville, Passaic, Old Bridge, and Trenton are also receiving funding to purchase laptops, Wi-Fi hotspots, and internet access needed for remote learning.

“In today’s world, having access to a computer and internet access is not a luxury, but a necessity,” said New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy, the founding chair of NJPRF. “We are hopeful that our commitment - alongside that of others - will address this pressing need so students can continue learning through the pandemic.”

Red Bank’s funding will allow the district to purchase 250 touch-screen Chromebooks for preschool students and 250 Chromebooks for K-8 students. “We are grateful and at the same time ecstatic for the financial support of the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund in order to help bridge the digital divide for our students and families,” said Red Bank Borough Public Schools Superintendent Jared J. Rumage. “Equitable access to updated technology and connectivity opens a whole new world for our students and enables them to be exposed to new opportunities and learning experiences,” Rumage said. “We have some of the most talented and resilient children in America and with this grant, we can ensure all Red Bank Borough Public School students have the capability to connect with our staff and continue to dream big.”

The forced transition to hybrid and remote learning as a result of the pandemic has presented many challenges for school districts, educators, and families and exacerbated many previously existing inequities. Although a strong technology program already existed within the Red Bank Borough Public Schools, it was limited to Grades 2 through 8. As part of a redesign, district leadership made a variety of creative adjustments relating to devices, connectivity, technical support and instruction, the most critical being the expansion of our 1:1 Chromebook program into Grades K and 1 and the distribution of our devices for home use. District staff members including administrators, secretaries, instructional assistants, teachers, and our Technology Department have all contributed greatly during this process to educate our families as needed and connect them with resources, including WiFi. With the support of the NJPRF, the District will be able to provide devices to all Preschool students as well while ensuring that all Grades K to 8 students have access to the latest technology and Wi-Fi connectivity. 

NJPRF CEO Josh Weinreich said the fund reached out to many districts to ascertain their needs and directed its donations to some of the state’s most economically disadvantaged districts, where the need far outstripped available funding. “This is another great example of NJPRF channeling the energy and resources of New Jersey to fill in the gaps and ensure every child has the equipment and access they need so that their education is not interrupted,” Weinreich said. 

Our District is grateful for the support of the NJPRF as well as other local partners who have contributed in smaller yet still impactful ways. These partners in education include the Red Bank Borough Education Foundation, Bridge of Books, Horizons at RCDS, First Assembly of God Church - Shrewsbury, Lunch Break, Fulfill, Red Bank Parks and Recreation, Red Bank Public Library, The Count Basie Center for the Arts, YMCA of Greater Monmouth County, Kitch Organic, Red Bank Resource Network, and the Knights of Columbus of Red Bank. 

The challenges of COVID-19 continue to persist; however, our commitment to reimagining what it means to be the Best School District in America for the families of Red Bank remains steadfast.