Aera funds Ventura County Library program that provides 24-hour, live-online tutoring and homework assistance to students
When businesses, schools and organizations shuttered their doors at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ventura County Library Director Nancy Schram immediately thought of the dozens of local students who turn to the Ventura libraries every day for help with their homework. She knew the need would only increase for students in the distance-learning environment.
To help bridge the gap, the library system signed up for a subscription to brainfuse HelpNow program, which provides live, online homework help in various school subjects, a 24-hour writing lab, and personalized eLearning tools to students in both English and Spanish.
Any student with a Ventura county library card can now access this program from a home computer with an internet connection. More than 2,000 students in elementary school up to pre-college, took advantage of the HelpNow resources between April 2020 and February 2021.
Through the pandemic, the library system had to cover many unanticipated costs including personal-protective equipment for employees and cleaning crews to implement the necessary enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols. Those costs will still be there when the libraries fully reopen for in-person services, and every dollar has already been stretched incredibly thin, Schram said.
The library system didn’t have the necessary funds available when it came time to renew their brainfuse subscription. The Friends of the Ventura Libraries actively worked to help raise supplemental funding for the library and reached out to Aera for help. Aera recognizes the importance of education and saw that students were struggling to keep up with their studies with limited access to resources. The company provided a $7,000 grant for the Friends group to help fund the brainfuse program for another year.
“We know not all students can come to the library for homework help for various reasons. Parents may not be able to help students with their homework, or they might not have access to the transportation to get here – this online resource will expand access to so many students across the county and will continue even when our homework centers are open again,” said Schram.
She added, “libraries do so much more then lend out books, students rely on us for help with their homework, or to get tutoring on complex subjects and the pandemic put so much of that on hold. Aera’s grant helps many of our local students continue to be successful in their education and we’re so grateful for their support.”