Auburn School District supports education access with $50,000 King County grant

The Auburn School District shared this blog with us to highlight the ways they are supporting young people through the ongoing pandemic through our partnership.  

Left to right, Andy Pham, Youth Engagement Coordinator and Rachael Parks, Youth Engagement Specialist from Neighborhood House present the Student Chromebook Cart. 

Access to a reliable technology device and internet, “is like air” says Jennifer Clouser, executive director of technology in Auburn School District (ASD). Technology impacts students’ and families’ access and opportunity in education and other areas.  

King County continues to support the community’s path toward recovery by addressing the inequitable impacts of the pandemic. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts across King County pivoted to remote and hybrid learning experiences for K-12 students. This public health emergency highlighted that not all students have the same access to technology at home to support remote or hybrid learning environments. Students, particularly those from low-income families, often lack access to the necessary technology for remote learning.  

In the fall of 2022, ASD’s Department of Technology received a $50,000 COVID Unmet Needs Grant from King County Department of Community and Human Services to address the continued impact of the pandemic on their student’s learning  and the school district used this grant to address the digital divide and technology needs of their students. 

Two Programs to Support Families and Student Learning: 

ASD used this grant to support their students who lost valuable instructional time due to the pandemic. These funds were used to support two programs in an effort to put a reliable device in the hands of families and students throughout the district. 

The first program involved a partnership with Neighborhood House and provided 15 student Chromebooks to two tutoring centers run out of Burndale Homes and Firwood Circle in Auburn. This allowed students to have a reliable device and access to the internet with which to complete homework and practice essential skills. Although ASD students in grades 6-12 already have a device to take home, elementary students’ devices stay at school. In an after school setting, this project puts the device back in the student’s hands, so they can use this time for additional practice, research and support. In partnership with Neighborhood House, these Chromebooks are permanently installed to help students all year long. 

The second project supported by this grant was ASD’s effort to provide four Chromebook devices to each elementary school in Auburn for families to checkout for the entire school year.  These Chromebooks provide access and allow the family to connect with the school and individual teachers by email, checking their student’s grades, attendance and programs happening in the school. Families are also able to check out an internet hotspot, if needed. ASD staff also help parents learn how to log into the student system, check grades and reset passwords to support two-way communication between the home and the school.