Helping low income students succeed relies on addressing a variety of issues. The digital divide, economic inequality, and food insecurity can all contribute to poor academic performances.
For example, according to a National Education Association report, approximately one quarter of school-aged children are living without access to broadband or a device that is able to connect to the internet. Without Wi-Fi hot spots and devices, children do not have full access to online learning materials.
Digital divides are opportunity gaps because they are an example of inequitable or unequal distribution of resources. This, in turn, impacts the achievement gap in education—a phrase that refers to the disparity in educational results.
Achievement gaps and opportunity gaps can hinder an individual's access to high-quality education, job opportunities, and social mobility. There are huge systemic changes that need to be made to address these educational disparities. On an individual level, you can promote change through sharing your time and resources. Here are a few ways you can help.
Attend Community Meetings
Whether you have children or not, you can learn a lot about what is happening in your area when you attend community meetings and school board meetings. Closing opportunity gaps strengthens the whole community, even those whose households aren't directly impacted. At these meetings, you can expect to contribute to discussions about what positive changes are needed in your community and vote on measures to start moving the needle.
Volunteer Your Time
Another way you as an individual can work to close the achievement gap in education is to tutor or become involved in supplementary educational programs. Summer camps, art classes, music lessons, and traveling sports teams can be expensive, and oftentimes only affluent families can afford them. In order to offer supplementary programs at a lower rate or free of charge, volunteer counselors and tutors are needed. When you volunteer in one of these programs, you're creating a path for every child to explore their interests.
If you are open to volunteering with a summer camp, a local tutoring program, or another type of extracurricular activity, reach out to area schools or park districts to ask about possibilities. Some are even online, so you can tutor from your own home.
Supporting Families with Donations and Supplies
Closing the achievement gap in education means connecting families with what they need to access opportunities. Helping low income students succeed means providing kids with access to technology, books, and school supplies—as well as supporting families who are struggling to keep their home stocked with food and household items.
If you are able to provide a financial donation, there are many organizations committed to providing support. You can find educational nonprofits on Charity Navigator. In addition to financial gifts, you can ask the nonprofits about their donation needs.
Here are some items that may be needed in your area:
- School supplies
- Food and household items
- Modems and other items needed for internet access
When families have what they need, kids can start their day ready to learn. After all, no one is able to focus on academics when they do not have the correct supplies or are coping with food insecurity.
Are you looking for more ways to support your community? Explore the ideas on the @tomsofmaine Natural Inspiration Pinterest board.
The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.
Why It's Good
Community support builds strong schools, and strong schools build a strong community. Supplemental programming, donations, and volunteering provide opportunities that can help to close the achievement gap in education. When you donate your time, efforts, and resources, you help students succeed.