2020. No doubt this year will go down in the history books.
The question is, will we remember 2020 or consciously work to forget it? If we choose to remember, my hope is that we focus on what we learned. At Springboard to Learning, we took stock of what we have learned during the COVID-19 challenge, and came up with the following:
- There is a digital divide – a gap between those with regular, effective access to digital technologies and those without it. In St. Louis, the north side is disproportionately affected, with fewer than 60% of homes having broadband, making distance learning challenging.
- Challenges can accelerate innovation. Springboard was able to implement Arts & Learning Snacks (tangible arts supplies) to enhance student education during distance learning, extending learning beyond the classroom, reaching parents with our message, and engaging community volunteers in product assembly.
- Unlikely partnerships can form during crisis. Springboard collaborated with Operation Food Search to distribute Arts & Learning Snacks at area meal sites to more than 7,000 students.
- Network affiliates can provide valuable resources. Young Audiences of Maryland shared the Arts & Learning Snacks concept, enabling Springboard to provide this service. Springboard and Arts for Learning Virginia shared Snack designs, increasing the number of available offerings.
- Distance learning opens new opportunities. Springboard is now engaging Teaching Artists from other states, and expanding opportunities for work nationally for our local Teaching Artists.
- Springboard in-person programming can be converted and implemented virtually. To-date, 87% of teaching artists have committed to converting their in-person programming to a live, interactive, online or pre-recorded virtual format.
- Springboard donors are generous. Thanks to our supporters, the replacement gala campaign, which included a silent auction and crowd fundraiser, raised 89% of our budgeted net goal.
- Remote work is productive. Thanks to new technology and IT support, work is possible and productive for the Springboard team while making traffic jams a thing of the past and casual attire the norm.
- We can stay connected. Zoom and Microsoft Teams meetings are allowing us face-to-face communication, maintaining a degree of normalcy.
- Going forward, we will count our blessings. We took a lot for granted in our former way of life. We will remember that life can change quickly, and we will be thankful for each new challenge and the learning opportunity it provides.