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United Way gives $50K to help ease transition of students from closed schools

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Mark McHugh

To help smooth the transition for students and their families forced by mass closings to change schools, the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and South New Jersey announced Monday that it would give the School District $50,000.

The money will be used to help make students feel more comfortable in their new schools and for their parents to meet and interact with other parents that are already acclimated to the community.

“The actual uses of the funding will be extremely varied,” said Deirdre Darragh, a School District spokesperson. The specifics, she said, “will pan out within the next few weeks as principals make requests.”

Those requests could range from parent open houses to student social events to technical supplies in classrooms. It’s up to the principals, said Darragh, to form a small budget and determine how the money can best meet the individual needs of their schools.

Though $50,000 isn’t likely to make a huge impact on the 51 receiving schools, Diane Castelbuono, United Way’s local chapter vice president of community impact, said the grant should serve as a starting point from which schools can begin the process of integrating their new students and parents through small social events.

The grant is meant to be “flexible money to fund transitional activities that will make students and parents feel comfortable in their new environments," Castelbuono said. "A thousand dollars here and there would go a long way to help ensure these students enter school ready to learn in the fall.”

United Way of Greater Philadelphia and South New Jersey is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of people in the region by attempting to ensure that everyone is provided a quality education, a self-sustaining income, and good health.

Mark McHugh is an intern at the Notebook.

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