Funds to be distributed across several agencies within Greene County
Springfield/Columbia, MO – September 30, 2020 – The Missouri College Access Network (MOCAN) received a grant of $360,000 from Greene County as part of the CARES Act—and the impact is expected to be felt by over 3,000 families throughout the County.
The funds are provided to administer five specific programs, all of which go toward MOCAN’s mission of increasing career and college awareness, preparation, access, and completion in Missouri, particularly for the underrepresented and underserved.
“One of the exciting things about this grant is the way it addresses technology needs,” says Francine Pratt, MOCAN Executive Director. “By partnering with the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, we learned how the pandemic brought the need to focus on internet access and affordability to the forefront. We can assist in making sure students have access to the internet for their studies—at least through the fall semester,” she says, “to help students regain what they may have lost by converting to online learning half way through the spring semester and help students stay current in their studies, which includes adult learners.”
She adds, “These funds are designed to work with organizations who know the K-12 students, their families and adult learners already. They know who needs access and who needs equipment—we don’t have to make those decisions. MOCAN’s role is to act as a convener, pulling the various components together to ensure we are working with the local organizations and educational institutions to reduce barriers to educational needs for those who need assistance.”
A full listing and description of the grant funding is available at mocollegeaccess.org/greene-county-cares-act-fund. A summary shows:
- Access to affordable internet for educational purposes for Fall 2020, which will be processed mostly through the Community Partnership of the Ozarks and MOCAN coordinating with the schools and local nonprofits.
- A technology scaled lease program, which will also be coordinated through the Community Partnership of the Ozarks and other organizations. As many as 200 devices will be purchased and loaned through identified organizations to provide a scaled lease of the equipment to students of color and adult learners who are Pell eligible. Fortunately, Springfield Public Schools provides chrome books and internet access for their 26,000 students. However, sometimes additional devices are needed such as printers/scanners and related supplies.
- Mentoring & tutoring programs aimed at those students most impacted by the lack of affordable access to internet services, which caused many students to fall behind during the last semester. Students for this program will be recommended by community-based and faith-based organizations as well as Springfield Public Schools and the Greene County higher education institutions.
- Establish the Bridge Springfield: Brother to Brother programs with the Grant Beach Boys and Girls Club and with Springfield Public Schools Middle Schools and High Schools. This is a development program and support system for mainly male students impacted by historical inequities: African American males and males from underserved populations who were faced with the greatest disparities because of COVID-19.
- An outreach program to provide information about recent workforce and short-term job training programs developed locally and by the Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development.
Organizations identified to receive funds have been established previously in Greene County. The plan is also to use local vendors, when possible, to purchase equipment and supplies, according to Ms. Pratt. While she expects CARES Act funds to be released throughout the state, she explains that “Greene County was a priority since it has the broadband and infrastructure already in place to move quickly. I expect the work we do here to serve as a model for further statewide projects that focus on addressing Internet access and affordability. I also want to publicly thank the Green County Commissioners, the three-stage review process and Dr. Foster for recognizing MOCAN’s focused attention to the students and their pursuit to increase their education.”
Greene County has established a “transparency dashboard” where reports of funding distributions are updated on a regular basis. That dashboard can be accessed at greenecountymo.gov/cares/awards/. Funds received by MOCAN have to be spent by December 30, 2020, showing the importance of addressing immediate needs within Greene County due to the pandemic.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a $2 trillion relief program passed by Congress on March 27, 2020 with the stated intent that it “provides fast and direct economic assistance for American workers and families, small businesses, and preserves jobs for American industries.” You can find more information about the CARES Act at home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/cares.