Achievement

Support Ascend: help our students learn remotely during this challenging time

By Lisa Margosian March 24, 2020

To donate to Ascend, visit www.ascendlearning.org/support-us.

 

Ascend has made remarkable strides closing the achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students and students of color in Central Brooklyn. But today we face a challenge that will have far-reaching impacts on our students and families, and together we must rise to the occasion to ensure our students remain on the path to success—and to avoid a reversal of the progress we’ve made and a resurgence of the debilitating gap in education our communities face.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Ascend closed its 15 schools on March 16 in alignment with the New York City Department of Education. This was not a move taken lightly. Our students depend on us not only for academic learning, but for meals, mental health services, and stability. Though our facilities are closed, our work to provide an excellent education carries on. In recent weeks our staff has made herculean efforts to create a virtual school system to serve our students’ diverse needs.

Today in our online classrooms, students are interacting with teachers and their peers as they engage in Ascend’s rich curriculum from a safe distance. Lower school teachers are leading math instruction, writer’s workshop, read aloud, and more. High school biology students are participating in video office hours, and physical education teachers are sharing at-home workouts. Middle schoolers are working in virtual groups. Counselors are providing tele-therapy to at-risk students and those with special needs, who also receive individualized instruction.

Students like Ethan, a first grader from Bushwick Ascend Lower School, have already produced inspiring work through our remote learning program, which launched just yesterday.

The current crisis now compels us to urgently close the technology gap for our students. As we transition to new means of learning, access to technology will be the linchpin of Ascend’s ability to live its mission. Our young people have achieved phenomenal growth over the past five years – improving by 35+ percentage points in both English and math, exceeding district and charter schools NYC- and NYS-wide – and now we must build on that growth using new media. Yet not all of our students have the hardware they need to engage in online learning. Of our 5,500 students, we know that hundreds lack adequate devices, and we must prepare for that number to increase as the needs of our families shift during this uncertain time. We have worked diligently in recent days to distribute laptops, yet the need exceeds our supply.

We are asking for your help to bridge this technology gap. Please consider giving by visiting https://www.ascendlearning.org/support-us/. Donations of any size are appreciated —$500 can place a laptop in the hands of a student.

We know that this period of health concern and economic uncertainty is testing us all and that you are undoubtedly receiving many pleas for help. We ask that you consider helping us ensure that the promise of Ascend is not lost for those most in need in our community—to allow our students to fully experience and benefit from learning and to continue on their inspiring path of growth and achievement.

Thank you for your continued support of Ascend’s mission. We wish you good health, safety, and peace during this time.