All in For Technology Supports

United Way of Alberta Capital Region’s All in for Youth program donates 420 Chromebooks to students.

Grade 5 student Emnet Tesfa worried about how she would finish her studies when the pandemic closed down schools.

Students everywhere had no choice but to adapt to new learning methods as in-person classes were replaced by online lectures. The transition took some getting used to for students, but it especially posed challenges for students with limited access to technology.

“COVID-19 has given me problems like how I am going to do my schoolwork and how much everything is going to change,” Tesfa said.

The pandemic forced all Edmonton schools to close their doors for the remaining part of the school year. All classes were moved to online platforms, causing difficulties for students whose access to technology is limited.

United Way of Alberta Capital Region’s All in for Youth program provides students in need with tailored supports such as food programs, counselling support, and after-school programming. The program serves students from vulnerable neighborhoods and family situations who need extra support with finishing school.

COVID-19 has added to the stress students may already be feeling when it comes to completing school.

”What became clear really early on as schools shut down was that in order for kids to continue on with their schoolwork and to participate, they need some way to chime in via technology,” said Rob Yager, CEO of United Way of Alberta Capital Region. “Offering technology support was really fundamental to ensure that these kids were able to continue on with their schoolwork and continue to engage with the supports as they needed.”

Thanks to Edmonton Community Foundation, two grants totaling $81,300 went toward the purchase of 420 Chromebooks for students in the All in for Youth program.

Chromebooks not only allow students to keep up with their schoolwork, but allow them to stay connected with the supports they relied on before the pandemic. The technology is crucial for the students to continue their schooling to ensure they are prepared for the next school year.

“ECF and United Way have worked together on All In for Youth since its inception,” says Craig Stumpf-Allen, ECF’s Director of Grants and Community Engagement. “We had seen the need for computers in the community and the United Way was helping to coordinate a response to this need. Supporting that response was a no-brainer.”

ECF seeded the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund (RRF) on March 25 with $500,000 of its discretionary dollars. Since then, the RRF has exceeded $1.5 million dollars to allocate to Edmonton’s charitable organizations, thanks to contributions from donors and the wider community.

“We wouldn’t be able to do it without partners like ECF,” Yager said. “ECF isn’t just a partner during the pandemic; ECF is a funder of the initiative and plays a critical role in our community connecting supports to All in for Youth. Without partners like ECF, All in for Youth wouldn’t be possible.”

No children should have to worry about how they are going to finish their studies, and thanks to All in For Youth, Tesfa and similar students are able to continue remote learning without worrying.

“I felt so happy and excited when I got my own Chromebook,” Tesfa said. “Once I got my Chromebook, I stopped worrying. It makes me feel like people are still thinking about me even though I am not with them.”

Learn more about ECF’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.