Free breakfasts and lunches available for students; COVID safety guidelines will be followed
Bright Futures for Youth will start providing much-needed internet access and supervision for students Monday, Oct. 26, at the Nevada County Fairgrounds’ Main Street Service Center as part of an agreement between the fairgrounds and Nevada County.
Bright Futures for Youth is a nonprofit created by the merger of The Friendship Club and NEO Youth Center.
The free Distance Learning Center and Youth Hub will be available to children, 8:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, to help meet the educational needs as the region continues to deal with the COVID pandemic and the subsequent health and safety requirements.
Children in fourth grade and higher can be dropped-off at the center, while parents or guardians must remain with younger students. The Distance Learning Center and Youth Hub can accommodate up to 40 students at a time.
The Distance Learning Center is committed to first helping students who have limited or no access to the internet or need more help with their schoolwork. School districts are working with Bright Futures for Youth to identify these students.
The Distance Learning Center will offer high-speed internet access – critical for online learning but difficult to get for many residents in rural areas – socially distanced workstations, and a safe and supervised study environment. Students are required to bring their own or school-provided Chromebooks, laptops or tablets, and headphones.
“There are so many ongoing challenges for parents and children, especially when it comes to school and online learning. Many families have no or very slow internet access, and that puts students at such a disadvantage when it comes to online learning,” said Jennifer Singer, Executive Director of Bright Futures for Youth. “The center and hub are truly a collaborative partnership between community organizations with creative and innovative solutions to ensure students can focus on their education in a supervised setting.”
The Distance Learning Center at the fairgrounds will serve all school districts in Nevada County.
Grass Valley GVSD Child Nutrition Services will provide free breakfasts and lunches to students.
The center “helps meet some of the critical needs” of students, Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Scott Lay said to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors. “It provides students and their families reliable internet in a very safe environment at a location they are familiar with.”
Bright Futures for Youth staff and volunteers will supervise students at the center and hub, along with staff from Nevada County Probation. Bright Futures for Youth has decades of experience with children and young adults in the region through The Friendship Club and NEO. Bright Futures for Youth offers after-school and enrichment programs; counseling and mentoring; help with access to social services; and hosts summer camps and programs. Several hundred children and young adults access the organization every year.
“We know many of these students and the obstacles they face when it comes to online learning,” Singer said. “We’re uniquely qualified to provide the services and supervision needed to help these students succeed and build resilience.”
The Friendship Club and NEO programs established virtual efforts and in-person activities to remain connected with youth during the pandemic. NEO will also hold after-school programs at the Distance Learning Center and Youth Hub.
The Distance Learning Center will be closed Oct. 30 and the week of Nov. 2 because the fairgrounds is an election polling location. Center activities resume on Nov. 5.
Nevada County and the Nevada County Fairgrounds announced the partnership for the Distance Learning Center and Youth Hub in late-September. Supervisors approved spending as much as $450,000 to lease the fairgrounds’ 12,000-square-foot exhibition hall through June. The funding consists of $200,000 from the county’s $10 million coronavirus relief federal fund and $250,000 from the general fund. The lease will generate much-needed revenue for the hard-hit fairgrounds, which has been struggling during the pandemic.
The Youth Hub will follow COVID guidelines, including social distancing and wearing masks. The area will be cleaned and sanitized throughout the day.