The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Foundation has delivered $100,000 in donations to Santa Ynez Valley schools to help them meet high-tech needs for distance learning as classes resume amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The foundation’s Remote Learning Resources program was developed to help schools address unforeseen costs caused by COVID-19 restrictions, and grant sizes were based on each school’s need and student enrollment, a foundation spokesman said.
Using that formula, Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, with the largest student population at 853, received the top grant of $32,175, the spokesman said.
“This donation to our school district has allowed us to fund a ‘community liaison’ position that will provide a critical point of contact with, and support for, Valley families that are experiencing unique struggles with facilitating distance learning for their children,” said Scott Cory, superintendent of the Santa Ynez Valley High Union School District.
Grants, ranging from $2,500 to $14,625, went to 11 other Santa Ynez Valley schools
They were Ballard Elementary, Dunn High School, Dunn Middle School, Jonata Middle School, Los Olivos Elementary, Oak Valley Elementary, Santa Ynez Charter School, Santa Ynez Elementary, Santa Ynez Valley Christian Academy, Solvang Elementary and the Family School.
Randal Haggard, superintendent of the Buellton Union School District, said donations to Oak Valley Elementary School and Jonata Middle School will help some students gain access to the internet.
“We have students who live on ranches and in areas that have shadow spots for cell service and Wi-Fi access, and connecting those families can be a significant expense,” he said. “These funds will help defray some of those costs.
“Also, it was the tribe’s generosity that helped us kick-start our one-to-one technology program, so this donation will be another shot in the arm for that effort.”
Haggard added the tribe’s gesture represents the strength of the local community and its willingness to support its youth.
“At a time when we probably use the word ‘unprecedented’ too frequently, this is truly a situation we’ve never experienced before,” he said of distance learning during a pandemic. “A donation like this meets the immediate needs. I can’t say enough about how grateful we are to have our community reaching out and being a safety net during this incredibly difficult time.”
Kenneth Kahn, tribal chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, said the foundation’s board has been inspired by the extraordinary lengths schools have gone to ensuring that students are successful in a new learning environment.
“Our tribe places a high value on education, and we felt it was important to help our local schools with additional funds during these challenging times,” Kahn said. “We’re proud to be part of a community that will go the extra mile to meet the educational needs for our future leaders and innovators.”
The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has donated more than $25 million to hundreds of local and national groups, organizations and schools.
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