ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) — Howard County officials announced Monday $1.3 million in CARES Act funding will go to support virtual learning.

County Executive Calvin Ball announced $750,000 of funding will be directed toward Howard County Scholars Program, $450,000 toward Digital Equity and $100,000 toward Food Access.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on all of us. As a former educator and father to two public school students, I know firsthand that making sure our children receive a quality and rigorous education virtually is very challenging and can often be frustrating,” said Ball.

“HoCo STRIVES was created to support our education outreach efforts in fostering an environment for ready and successful students. When we created this vision, we could not foresee that it would also play this critical part in our response to a health crisis,” Ball continued. “I am so proud of the ingenuity, compassion, and effort that HoCo STRIVES has provided to some of the most vulnerable families in our community.

Leaders of Tomorrow Youth Center which will administer the Howard County Scholars Program for in-person education of middle school students from September through December 2020. The program is currently at the following middle schools. Wilde Lake, Oakland Mills, Lake Elkhorn, Harper’s Choice, Elkridge Landing, Patuxent Valley, and Dunloggin

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“Thank you to our county partners for enhancing the community supports necessary for our families. We realize that even more must be done to fully serve every child, family and person who is struggling during this pandemic,” said Dr. Michael J. Martirano, HCPSS Superintendent. “Improved internet access and technology to support learning, services that eliminate food insecurities and educational opportunities that overcome equity barriers will help to build upon the work we have done in this county over the last several months to help families support their children’s health, well-being and education.” 

HoCo STRIVES CARES Act will also fund 500 hotspots and free internet service to 500 families across the county.

Nine additional internet access points have also been provided or expanded to provide free public Wi-Fi access at the following locations: 

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  1. Columbia Lakefront 
  2. Downtown area of Historic Ellicott City 
  3. Clarksville Commons 
  4. Long Reach Village Center 
  5. Middle Patuxent Environmental Area (MPEA) – in the parking lot off of Trotter Rd 
  6. Gary Arthur Community Center – allowing for access from the parking lot 
  7. George Howard Building (GHB) – at the front courtyard near entrance area of the building 
  8. Blandair Regional Park 
  9. Kiwanis Wallace Park – near the back fields 

Another $100,000 will be awarded to Roving Radish program to serve families who are unable to access other food resources in the county. This funding provides free meal kits and grocery boxes to 55 families per week and subsidized meal kits to 212 families.    

CBS Baltimore Staff