New Computers for our RELI students

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Many people do not have the English language skills needed to succeed in our neighborhood. The Rockwood English Language Institute is the RCDC initiative that offers free English classes in our community.  

Currently operating in partnership with Mt Hood Head Start, our students are mostly young mothers with preschool-aged (and older) children. Their lives are busy, and the pandemic showed us that the opportunity to learn from home has been a gift for these women, mainly when school-provided laptops were available. 

However, attending virtual classes became more challenging once their children’s school laptops were returned to school. They can attend Zoom classes via mobile phone, but it’s far from ideal. This need inspired us to look for funding so we could provide a complete learning experience to these students. 

On March 10 of this year, the City of Gresham informed us that we were awarded $20,000 of American Rescue Plan funds to purchase computer equipment and a digital curriculum for RELI students. Once we had the funds, we immediately purchased 12 Chromebook computers and a one-year subscription to Burlington English, an online ESL program. 

On May 20, eight students picked up their new computers at the Sunrise Center. It was a joyful day for all of us! Not only did students receive their new Chromebooks, but we had the opportunity to meet our students in person for the first time.

It’s only been a week, but there has been 100% attendance so far. We’ve had visitors from Burlington English and the Multnomah County Library this week to walk students through the use of their new computers and curriculum. 

The budget for the grant included internet stipends and bilingual books for toddlers and preschoolers who frequently join their mamas in class. We will be giving these out when we celebrate the conclusion of RELI’s most successful academic year at Nadaka Park on June 10. By that time, students should be well-oriented for independent work through the summer.