NEW CASTLE - Today, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer proposed the first distribution of federal stimulus funds to provide quality individualized learning environments for children who experienced the most severe learning COVID-19 loss.
In addition, the County Executive announced the start of task force committees to assist with the distribution of New Castle County's share of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Signed into law in March by President Joseph Biden, this investment is designed to provide direct relief to Americans, contain COVID-19 and rescue the economy.
"We have friends and neighbors who are hurting, whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by this pandemic," said County Executive Meyer. "Our success honestly and transparently investing federal stimulus dollars last year to protect our most vulnerable, actively including the best ideas from across our community, was recognized nationally. We are following a similar formula this year, starting with quality and intensive programs for improved learning for our children. Too many Delawareans continue to suffer from the effects of this pandemic. We must act now.”
Last month County Executive Meyer launched the website www.newcastlede.gov/reimagine where members of the community have contributed ideas to invest the federal stimulus dollars to reimagine New Castle County. Since the launch, the website has received hundreds of suggestions. Now, along with the website and soliciting the public's suggestions, New Castle County will have task force committees that will recommend investments to the County. Those committees are:
Economic and Community Development: Land Use General Manager Rich Hall, Councilman Penrose Hollins and Councilman John Cartier
Early Learning: Economic Development Director Charuni Patibanda, Councilwoman Lisa Diller and Councilman Kenny Woods
Workforce Development: Executive Assistant CJ Bell and Councilman Tim Sheldon
Inter-governmental Collaboration: Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Erik Raser-Schramm, and Council President Karen Hartley-Nagle
Audit and Compliance: County Auditor Bob Wasserbach and Chief Financial Officer Michael Smith (a continuation of CARES Act committee)
This collaborative approach reflects the strategy New Castle County officials took with Federal CARES Act funding that was provided last summer. New Castle County used those funds to stand up a nationally recognized testing program at a time where COVID-19 tests were scarce. More than 500,000 tests were administered over 400 testing events over the past year. New Castle County also purchased the Sheraton South hotel and converted the facility into the state's largest emergency shelter and created creative classroom grants to 1,600 of Delaware’s teachers for COVID-19 learning initiatives.
Today, County Executive Meyer is proposing to County Council an investment of up to $500,000 for urgent summer learning programs. Each investment is made in collaboration with area K-12 institutions. Based on conversations with superintendents and the Charter School Network, County Executive Meyer is proposing The Red Clay Freedom School and Reading Assist as initial organizations to receive funding from New Castle County, pending County Council approval.
Reading Assist provides intensive services for young, at-risk children with the most significant reading challenges so that they achieve reading progress and proficiency. “To address the learning loss that so many vulnerable children across Delaware are facing following a challenging pandemic school year, Reading Assist is preparing to support more students than ever through our high-dosage tutoring program,” said Caroline O’Neal, Executive Director of Reading Assist. “We are honored to be considered for this generous support from the New Castle County Executive Office and County Council. This will potentially support Reading Assist team members to teach hundreds more students this summer and even into next school year.” The requested funds for Reading Assist will go toward start-up materials and equipment for their summer tutoring program.
The CDF Freedom Schools program provides summer and after-school enrichment through a research-based and multicultural program model that supports K-12 scholars and their families through five essential components: high quality academic and character-building enrichment; parent and family involvement; civic engagement and social action; intergenerational servant leadership development; and nutrition, health, and mental health. "This valuable partnership with New Castle County will support our goal of hiring and retaining minority Servant Leader Interns from our local and national HBCUs who will support 50 students from our Warner and Shortlidge school communities," said Dr. Tawanda Bond, Director of Equity and Strategic Partnerships for Red Clay Consolidated School District.