Equity Grants: COVID Education Fund

Categories: Achievement / Opportunity Gap, Education


Rochester Area Community Foundation has established a COVID Education Fund to urgently support the purchase of technology and home internet access for students who don’t have reliable or high-speed internet access or computers in their homes.

When schools closed and in-class lessons quickly transitioned to online learning, this critical need became apparent. Younger students may be more directly affected because in some districts that took advantage of the state funding to improve educational technology, older students may have been given laptop computers.

When COVID-19 caused schools to close, students had only completed 64% or 115 days of the state minimum requirement of 180 days. Many students and those without access to online learning will end the year having missed out on a third of in-class instruction and educational supports. The accelerated transition to online learning also exposed how students’ families, already suffering the challenges of the digital divide, would have limited capabilities to access services, medical information, apply for unemployment and jobs or develop the skills needed to advance in jobs they may hold.

Applications will need to include a school or district’s strategies for meeting the technology needs of students who currently don’t have access. Grants will be awarded based on need and potential impact.

Requests will incorporate the following:

  • Clearly identified student need (internet connectivity, access to devices, training)
  • Focus on younger learners
  • Plans for distribution of devices

Where possible requests can include:

  • Plans for ongoing usage and/or recollection of devices
  • Plans for monitoring usage of devices

The COVID Education Fund, created by the Foundation’s Board of Directors in April 2020, is being seeded with a $170,000 grant from the Maxion Family Charitable Fund, established at the Community Foundation in 1999 by the estate of a philanthropic family. The purpose of this permanently endowed fund is to promote “education for humanity” with grants supporting, among other things, access to technology.

Typical Grant Size

Dependent on school or school district’s needs, as funds are available.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicant must be a school or school district recognized by NYS Department of Education serving grades kindergarten to 12.

Application Due Date(s)

The COVID Education Fund is closed for applications.


Simeon Banister
Vice President, Community Programs
Rochester Area Community Foundation
500 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607-1912

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