Connect Milwaukee provides tech, online support for MPS students

The potential of coronavirus getting into the classroom prompted the Milwaukee Public School District to start the school year remotely. 

To help ensure success, a local foundation helped ensure every MPS student had laptop and internet access — but more support is needed.

Attending another school day at home, a 1st grader at Greenfield Bilingual School, Sofia Ramirez uses a Chromebook for remote learning. 

Sofia Rodriguez, MPS 1st grader

For the most part, it's pretty good, but her mother Maria Rodriguez says they've encountered a few challenges.  

"I think my main concern is about the internet. So many parents are trying to get on the internet sometimes you have to go in and come back," Rodriguez said.

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With about 75,000 students and more than 5,000 teachers in the district in distance learning, providing technical support is a major task.

"You have to be enabled and powered," said Wendell Willis, executive director Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation.

Wendel Willis

Wendel Willis

He says the organization is launching phase two of its #ConnectMilwaukee campaign.

"We are deepening our commitment to making sure that tech and online learning is at the highest level it can be," Willis said.

Providing different levels of support and resources. 

"At times, we talk about 'do we get different devices?' Whether it be, 'do we get a high-powered laptop because that laptop may not be conducive to doing artwork on that device or doing music on that device?' We have to try and be as malleable as possible," Willis said.

Phase 2 will fund tech support for online learning platforms, additional training, and coaching for teachers, personalized support to students and families, additional help desk support staff for parents along with additional IT staff.

"I think it's just awesome that school and the foundation are doing this for the kids because they really need it for sure," Rodriguez said.

Willis says these funds are vital because money from the cares act will not arrive in time. 

So far, phase 2 is at $50,000 and is hoping to get to $1 million by November 1. 

To learn more about the effort or make a donation, privately or with your company or corporation, visit their website.