In light of the developments with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in our region, Living Classrooms has adjusted our operations to ensure we continue to meet the needs of those we serve while taking measures to protect our entire Living Classrooms community. From meal and hygiene distribution to virtual learning, we are working hard to meet basic needs and to prevent learning loss.
Scroll down to learn about the current status and updates from our sites and programming across Baltimore and Washington, DC.
How you can help:
Donate to the “Community Needs Fund”
The most important way you can support Living Classrooms and our community right now is through financial support. The Community Needs Fund will enable us to provide critical support and services including distribution of food, hygiene, and essential household items; remote hands-on learning, regular well-being check-ins, and help for the unemployed to access resources and connections to current high demand jobs. The Fund will help us serve our most vulnerable community members during the current pandemic and anticipated future impact.
Select “COVID-19 Community Needs Fund” from the designation dropdown menu.
Purchase items from our Amazon Wish List
Help us respond to the needs of our communities by purchasing essential items to keep families safe and healthy, and children learning during this difficult time.
When shopping on Amazon, consider using Amazon Smile and making Living Classrooms your account’s beneficiary. Amazon will donate a portion of every purchase you make to support us, year-round. Just navigate to smile.amazon.com and shop normally!
Support our BEE SMART students this summer!
Help us incentivize our BEE SMART students’ summer learning participation by purchasing prizes to reward positive progress and good attendance by shopping our Amazon Wish List.
Make other in-kind contributions of goods to support our General Program Needs:
- Laptops/Chromebooks (to provide students with access to digital learning)
- Hygiene Supplies (soap, hand and household sanitizer, face masks)
- 4-passenger Pick-up Truck, 15-passenger Van (for our Project SERVE and Safe Streets teams)
- Bobcat, Forklift
Contact Erin Myers at email@example.com if you would like to donate any of the above items.
Other Ways You Can Support Us at Home
- Make homemade face masks to be distributed to community members in need. Delivery sites in both Baltimore and Washington.
Click here for guidelines from the CDC
Follow These Simple Mask Making Instructions
- Write ‘Notes of Encouragement’ for our students and families
For details and questions, email Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will continue to post updates on our website and through social media.
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Sign up for our email list and receive periodic updates sent directly to your inbox.
Thank you for your support of Living Classrooms to help our communities be safer, stronger, and healthier.
Programming and Facility Updates:
We thank our staff, trustees, volunteers, funders, and partners in the community for your patience and flexibility as we pivot and adjust to the daily changes affecting our most vulnerable communities. Below is an overview of adjustments being made to date. Please continue to check our website as these may change.
How we are supporting our communities in Baltimore…
- The POWER House is serving as an essential food distribution and community service hub, serving over 350 grab-and-go meals daily – including donations from multiple restaurants and weekly bread donations from H&S Bakery for residents living in the East Baltimore communities.
- The Crossroads Public Charter Middle School is engaged in remote summer learning opportunities for our 163 students. Teachers are preparing lessons and engaging with our students through remote avenues and have created a comprehensive online platform for students using curriculum-aligned resources. Thanks to generous donations from Constellation, Medifast, and Centric Business Systems, we were able to fund the purchase of Google Chromebooks for each student so that all our children can fully participate in remote learning. This is critically important to our students’ success.
- The staff at our community centers and out-of-school time programming including the POWER House, Park House, Dent House, UA House at Fayette and Baltimore Urban Gardening with Students (BUGS) are committed to keeping open communication with all families. Our staff members have been checking in with students and families via calls and virtual outreach. The goal of these calls is to make sure our families are doing okay, check-in on their child’s learning, provide resources and support as needed, and maintain a human connection with our program participants.
- This summer, each of our community centers is participating in virtual summer camps for students in grades 1-8 across Baltimore and Washington, DC that are bringing our hands-on learning experience to students virtually from their own homes, yards, and neighborhoods. Curriculum focuses on STEAM education, environmental science, music enrichment, reading, video production, among others.
- Our Fresh Start students are engaged in weekly remote learning and our instructors are conducting wellness calls daily to students.
- Living Classrooms Music program, Ascend through Music, is engaging youth with individual and group virtual lessons. Individual lessons focus on instruments and group sessions focus on songwriting and beat development. The staff are also engaging with students through social media where they can share their original work with their community of followers.
- The Education Department is continuously creating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math) activity boxes for children of different ages (pre-school, elementary, and middle school) for pick up at grab-and-go food distribution sites in Baltimore and Washington, DC. Boxes will be distributed weekly until schools resume, to keep children engaged and busy.
- Each box contains all the materials needed to do the activities and links to YouTube videos and other resources for those who have access to the internet. STEAM Activity Box distribution began on April 13th with an initial run of 2,000 boxes. We are actively seeking donations to cover the cost of materials for the boxes. Make a Donation Here.
- Our Workforce Development case managers at Broadway Overlook Community Center and UA House at Fayette are working with clients remotely. Case managers are conducting daily wellness checks with all clients, filling out job applications, updating resumes, and providing resources.
- This summer, our workforce development staff are working with 34 teens and young adults through Baltimore City’s YouthWorks fellowship to help them build basic job readiness skills and provide an opportunity for on-the-job training while they build their resumes through actual job placements with participating employers. A number of these interns are employed with Living Classrooms and will be assisting various departments with programming this summer (many through virtual means).
- Project SERVE – while there was a partial temporary work stoppage for some components of our Project SERVE employment training program for returning citizens, participants are back on the job, performing critical maintenance and cleaning projects across Baltimore City using appropriate safety measures. With a potential influx of newly released citizens due to the coronavirus, we are preparing for increased enrollment in this program and are grateful to be able to provide employment to these individuals during these uncertain times.
- Safe Streets staff continue to mediate disputes to mitigate the recent surge in violence and have been designated essential employees by Baltimore City. They are also providing meals and hygiene products to community members in need.
- Dr. Jang has been capturing the creativity, innovation, and impact of our incredible staff on the front lines and working remotely through our performance management system, LivingClassrooms.stat.
How we are supporting our communities in DC…
- Kingman and Heritage Islands—We have successfully advocated with DC government to keep Kingman and Heritage Islands open to the public for passive recreation. We continue to maintain the islands and report the number of visitors and their behavior to the District. Staff are developing distance learning materials about the islands and the Anacostia River for students. After we were forced to cancel the May 2nd Bluegrass Festival, we created a new Kingman and Heritage Islands Education and Community Fund that will benefit our hands-on education programs on the islands. Learn more and contribute here.
- This summer, Living Classrooms was one of only two organizations to receive DOEE funding to host a GZEP (Green Zone Environmental Program) group of youth and young adults who will participate in a virtual education and job training program with our Kingman Island staff focused on stewarding a new generation of professionals in green industries.
- Gallatin Street Trash Trap—We continue to operate and maintain the trash interceptor on a major Anacostia River tributary during this spring rainy season. Our Kingman Rangers continue to use this work as training in green jobs.
- Camp Fraser—We have closed the camp for the spring season, as all of our projected revenue was to come from class visits supported by DOEE. However, we are working closely with DOEE to retain all of the grant funds and apply them to alternative activities, camp maintenance, and fixed camp costs such as insurance and utilities. Our educators are spending the summer months actively creating and sharing digital lessons to bring the experience of Camp Fraser to students while they are at home, even during the summer months.
- Robotics—the March-May competition season was cancelled by FIRST Chesapeake. Our team competed in one large meet before the cancellation and finished in the top half of all teams competing. Staff and our volunteer mentors are meeting regularly with team members through distance learning exercises conducted virtually.
- Ascend through Music—Staff is continuing virtual music learning activities with our Queen Beez and Beat Zone students online and engaging with students through social media, where they can share their original work.
- Our Workforce Development staff is working with a number of teens and young adults this summer through a YouthWorks fellowship to help them build basic job readiness skills and provide an opportunity for on-the-job training while they build their resumes through actual job placements with participating employers. Several of the youth interns are employed with Living Classrooms and will be assisting with programming this summer (many through virtual means).
- The Dent House – staff is collaborating with GOOD Projects and other nonprofits in Southwest DC to support the residents of the nearby public housing, and present virtual information about job readiness. Staff is also working with area groups to supply neighborhood residents with needed food through a food pantry. Additionally, the team has been distributing STEAM Activity Boxes from the Dent House to support distance learning, even for students without access to a computer or internet. We are actively seeking donations to cover the cost of materials for the boxes. Make a Donation Here.
- This summer, The Dent House has united with our other DC-based education programs to deliver its first virtual summer camp for students in grades 1-8 that reside in the Southwest community. The camp is bringing our hands-on learning experience and environmental campuses (like Kingman Island and Camp Fraser) to students virtually from their own homes, yards, and neighborhoods. Curriculum focuses on STEAM education, environmental science, music enrichment, reading, video production, among others.
How we are managing our facilities…
- Most of our facilities are temporarily closed to the public and most staff are working remotely. All facilities have implemented an increased cleaning and hygiene regimen, including conducting another deep cleaning of our sites. In all our sites and programming, we are following all the recommendations of the Health Department to reduce the possibility of spread and flatten the curve.
- Historic Ships in Baltimore (including the USS CONSTELLATION, USCGC TANEY, USS TORSK, Lightship 116 Chesapeake, and the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse), the Chessie Dragon paddle boats and electric Pirate Ships rental concessions and the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park will be closed until it is safe for visitors and staff to return. All tours, education programs, military ceremonies and other activities between now and mid-June have been either cancelled or postponed.
- The grounds and facilities at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine are closed until it is deemed safe for visitors and staff.
- Camp Fraser is closed, but we are working closely with the DC Department of Energy and Environment to re-design and expedite our four current grants for Camp Fraser and Kingman Island to support staff, develop materials, and plan for the resumption of programming. We are also pushing to expedite our pending Kingman Island grant from the DC Department of Transportation.
How we are ensuring the sustainability of the Foundation…
- Our Development Team is actively writing grant proposals, communicating with the funding community regarding 2020 needs, and creatively seeking funding to support our programs.
- Our departments have redesigned programming that allows us to continue to serve the community and meet outcomes tied to funding.
- Our Finance team is ensuring accounts receivable and billing are up to date, doing cash projections, and drawing down on grants where allowed.
- We are also applying for assistance where beneficial – including SBA funding as well as Layoff Aversion funding. We are applying for the maximum funding allowed. It will not cover all the fringe but will cover some additional operating expenses. We are hopeful much of this will turn into a grant, but that will depend on what happens in the upcoming weeks. The Layoff Aversion funding will reimburse us for costs we incurred (laptops, etc….) to set our employees up to work remotely.
- Our Finance and Human Resources teams are staying up to date as to the FFCRA, DOL, IRS, and other regulations, which are being frequently updated with the finer points of the new legislation.
Thank you for your support of our mission as we navigate these uncertain times.
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