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PAE Gets $40k Grant from Bank of America

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PAE Gets $40k Grant from Bank of America
Posted on 12/01/2020
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Friends of Portland Adult Education announced on Dec. 1 the receipt of a $40,000 economic resiliency grant from Bank of America. The grant will help support the transition to virtual learning for more than 1,000 students taking academic and job training classes at Portland Adult Education (PAE) this fall.

“Bank of America is partnering with Portland Adult Education as part of our $1 billion four-year national commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity,” said Bill Williamson, Maine market president for Bank of America. “In Maine, we remain committed to supporting organizations that help people in our communities get the skills they need, particularly as we continue to navigate the pandemic.”

During the spring semester, more than 30 percent of PAE students ceased attending classes when they were abruptly converted to a virtual learning mode.  Most cited lack of connectivity, or access to a computer. Other students stated they could not write essays or follow English language classes on their phones and struggled to participate in class due to lack of reliable internet.

Bank of America’s funding supported the purchase of 230 Chromebooks that will be loaned to students. Additionally, funds will support monthly access to more than 200 hotspots that have been distributed to students. Access to technology and connectivity is  a matter of racial equity. “The majority of students at Portland Adult Education are students of color who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.  Students who have recently arrived in the U.S. are often unable to work and others are working two or more minimum wage jobs. These students are putting in a tremendous effort to learn English or to get a high school diploma or to  prepare for college or a career,”  said Anita St. Onge, PAE Executive Director.  Many PAE students are employed on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic in healthcare, food processing, and production.

PAE, which is a part of the Portland Public Schools, plans to continue its current virtual learning model into the winter semester. Currently, students who wish to continue classes will be allowed to keep their Chromebooks and hotspot connectivity through the holidays so they can work on extended coursework offered by dedicated PAE teachers.

About Friends of Portland Adult education

The mission of FPAE is to raise resources to support and increase adult learning opportunities that are beyond the current and future capacities of the publicly financed local budget of Portland Public School. Since its inception in 2012, FPAE has raised more than $1 million. FPAE is a 501 c-3 foundation with an 11-member board of directors.