Living Classrooms received a $50,000 grant from Truist Financial Corporation to support its efforts to respond to ongoing community needs in response to the COVID-19 health crisis, the Baltimore-Washington-based nonprofit announced Tuesday.
Traumatic exposures in the communities served by Living Classrooms such as violence, poverty, and racism are magnified by the devastating effects of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Families living within the Baltimore Target Investment Zone specifically, in which as many as 56.2% of households make less than $25,000 a year, are highly vulnerable not only to illness but also the cascading effects of lost income, food insecurity, unmet basic household and hygiene needs, learning loss resulting from school closures, and poor access to reliable, credible public health information such as CDC guidance.
As the effects of the virus have swept into every facet of society, Living Classrooms has collaborated with community partners and supporters to deploy a rapid local response to help mitigate the collateral effects on Baltimore and Washington’s most vulnerable residents.
In the immediate weeks following stay-at-home orders, Living Classrooms pivoted services to continue to meet the needs of children, adults and families while adhering government safety regulations.
Living Classrooms quickly established food and supply distribution sites at its POWER House Community Center located in Perkins Homes, Baltimore City’s largest public housing community, its two Safe Streets sites in east Baltimore, and through its Dent House Community Center in Southwest Washington, DC. Safe Streets Violence Interrupters, deemed an essential service by Baltimore City, are providing critical mediation services to quell rising violence.
The Foundation also developed thousands of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) Activity Boxes to distribute to city students in Baltimore and Washington, established distance learning opportunities for its students, instituted a protocol for staff to conduct wellness checks with program participants, and acquired technology for its public charter middle school students of The Crossroads School to access daily lessons and not fall behind academically.
In addition, Living Classrooms’ workforce development team has been diligently identifying job openings and assisting unemployed adults in obtaining positions in high demand fields like stocking, delivery, and sanitation to ensure financial stability for families during this time.
The grant is part of the financial services company’s Truist Cares initiative, a $25 million philanthropic pledge announced in March to support basic needs, medical supplies, and financial hardship relief due to COVID-19.