Update: Our Programs During COVID-19
I am a rushing river,
adapting to change. I can go with the flow,
getting stronger with many storms.
From A Bolt of Lightning by Franklin H., age 11
We hope you’re well in this stormy time of COVID-19. All 826 Valencia spaces and stores are currently closed, in accordance with the shelter-in-place order and guidelines from the San Francisco Department of Public Health. As of this writing, SFUSD schools are closed through May 1. (Update: schools are now closed through the end of the school year.)
But our staff is hard at work (from home) developing ways to serve our students remotely. One of our core tenets is that we listen to what our communities need and adapt our programs accordingly—and that approach has never been more important or more meaningful than it is now. Here’s the latest:
- We called 250 of our families to see how they are doing, what they need, and how we can help. As we learn that technology is often a barrier, we’re working with school and corporate partners in an effort to help our families access computers and WiFi.
- We’re piloting remote versions of a few of our core programs for enrolled families, including homework support, weekly writing prompts, and online meetings of our Youth Leadership Advisory Boards. As we learn more about what’s needed and what’s working, we hope to extend these offerings to more students throughout the spring.
- We are working with teachers and administrators at our close partner schools to learn how we can best support their school’s remote learning plans. The district is currently training their staff and hoping to formally launch virtual curriculum in mid-April.
- We’re moving forward with selecting this year’s cohort of 826 Valencia college scholarship awardees and will announce them soon (that will be a day-brightener!)
- Our online store will continue to fill orders, and is now offering ebooks. Ever wanted an eyepatch, unicorn horn polish, or to cozy up with the latest writing by authors ages 8 to 18? Now is a great time to fill these needs while supporting our programs.
- We’re keeping our volunteers connected to 826 and to each other through Virtual Coffee Hours, discussion groups, and a weekly writing prompt in the volunteer newsletter. If you’re a registered 826 Valencia volunteer and want to make sure you receive these updates and opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org. As we develop more plans for remote programming, we may have some virtual tutoring opportunities to share.
One thing we can be certain of is that the interruption of school time will be felt profoundly by our students who live in under-resourced communities. We know that our unique and impactful writing, tutoring, and publishing programs will be essential to help students build their writing skills, grow their confidence, and make their voices heard during this challenging time.
We’re navigating uncharted waters, but we can get through this and emerge even stronger by working together, just like Franklin H.’s rushing river. Please take care, and stay tuned for more updates soon!