Academic learning pods help Cleveland students learn remotely

Coalition of partners including Cleveland Foundation and United Way of Greater Cleveland lead project to safely connect academically vulnerable students with small group, in-person support for virtual learning and tutoring

Release Date: 9.14.2020

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Foundation and United Way of Greater Cleveland, in partnership with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), today announced the Academic Learning Pods (ALP) initiative to provide students in kindergarten through eighth grade with a safe space and in-person tutoring to supplement their virtual learning.

Through the initiative, more than 800 CMSD students who are academically vulnerable, homeless, without internet or have guardians who are essential workers will gain in-person educational support and on-site enrichment, including reliable internet and lunch, when they are not in school classrooms.  

“The impact of COVID-19 on the education sector is unprecedented,” said Dale Anglin, Cleveland Foundation’s Program Director of Youth, Health and Human Services. “The abrupt shift to virtual learning comes with a cost for working parents who need childcare, families without adequate internet connectivity and students who are academically underserved and rely on schools not just for the education they provide, but also for social and emotional support. This initiative directly addresses achieving equity and opportunity for less advantaged students and families by helping classroom teachers and out-of-school-time providers collaborate to provide the greatest level of support in the safest environment possible for our youngest residents.”

The Cleveland Foundation and other partners have committed considerable resources to the CMSD ALP initiative, with more than $720,000 raised to date. However, additional funding is required for the project to continue.

“Virtual learning is often a difficult transition for children, and for those who don’t have internet, or those who struggle academically, it can be an impossible one, further widening the education gaps that exist and setting students off course. These Academic Learning Pods will prevent a widening of the education gap, and United Way of Greater Cleveland is pleased to work with the Cleveland Foundation and other vital partners to bring this innovative initiative to Cleveland students,” said Nancy Mendez, United Way of Greater Cleveland’s Vice President of Community Impact. “Academic Learning Pods are just one example of the life-changing work we can make possible in our community through collaboration.”

Beginning this week, ALPs will be available through 24 community-based partners who will closely follow public health guidelines, including social distancing, to ensure student safety. These partners were selected through a Request for Proposal process led by the Task Force on ALPs, which included the City of Cleveland, Cleveland Foundation, CMSD, Cleveland Public Library, MyCom, Northeast Ohio STEM Learning Ecosystem, Say Yes to Education, Starting Point and United Way of Greater Cleveland. A similar initiative is being deployed by MyCom for the inner-ring suburbs. Other learning pods may be available in Cleveland. Individuals looking for resources should contact their respective CMSD school.

“We are very grateful to the many partners who are helping to carry out this critical component of our reopening plan,” said Eric Gordon, CEO at CMSD. “We must support families in a variety of ways as they adjust to remote learning. A broad community effort like this is needed if our plans and, ultimately, our students are to be successful.”

Corporations or individuals who wish to support the project can donate at    

The list of ALP providers is found below.                                    

CMSD Academic Learning Pod Initiative Providers

  1. Bellaire-Puritas Community Development Corporation
  2. Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Ohio
  3. Catholic Charities: Fatima Family Center
  4. Center for Arts-Inspired Learning
  5. Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority
  6. Community of Faith Assembly
  7. Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center
  8. Elizabeth Baptist Church
  9. Esperanza, Inc.
  10. Focus Minds
  11. Good2Great
  12. Greater Cleveland Neighborhood Center Association
  13. Horizon Education Center
  14. Jones Road Family Development Corporation
  15. Laura’s Home
  16. Lexington-Bell Community Center
  17. Merrick House
  18. Open Doors Academy
  19. Reach Success
  20. The Salvation Army
  21. Scranton Road Ministries Community Development Corporation
  22. Spanish American Committee
  23. The Cleveland Play House
  24. The Meeting Place Learning Center

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