Local organizations have been coordinating to provide spaces with free WiFi to help give students studying online a dedicated space to study.
The plan for the Delaware Learning Extension Centers was spearheaded by Nathan Gordon, the youth pastor at Compassion Christian Church, who said he was inspired by similar projects in Columbus.
“The Columbus Dream Center has launched 18 (Learning Extension Centers) and has also built a model for other organizations in Columbus to adapt so that as many students as possible can have a safe, effective place to focus and study while they’re not in school,” Gordon said.
He added after hearing about the initiative in Columbus, he tried to figure out a way to adapt the idea in Delaware.
“I ended up on the phone with Ruchelle Pride, the president of (Second Ward Community Initiative), and at the end of our conversation I mentioned the LECs,” Gordon said. “She thought it was a great idea and agreed to partner with me in launching this initiative in Delaware.”
Gordon said he saw how hard online learning was on students he works with in the spring and wanted to help.
“I’m a youth pastor, and seeing my students struggle through some of the social and academic difficulties of online school at the end of last year broke my heart,” he said. “On top of that, there are many students in Delaware whose home lives aren’t conducive to online school. I know the school made the best decision they could given the circumstances, but when I saw that students would either be participating in a hybrid model or completely online, I wanted to make sure they had a safe, effective way to succeed academically, socially, mentally and emotionally.”
Gordon said he’s glad the church has been able to help students.
“We see in the Bible that Jesus’ heart is so full of compassion for children, it’s who He is, so it’s really cool that we get to see churches as the primary organizations stepping up to serve these kids,” Gordon said.
Along with help from Pride, Gordon added the two approached possible learning extension centers together and have many connections in the community.
“I have a lot of connections in the church, so I approached the churches, and she has a lot of connections with nonprofits and businesses that are geared towards helping the community, so she reached out to them,” Gordon said. “We ended up with seven locations, but we currently have nine organizations partnering to make the seven locations possible. For example, our COhatch location has the spacing provided by COhatch at a wonderfully discounted rate, the funding is provided by one church while another church will be running the day-to-day operations and providing volunteers. It’s been so encouraging to see the community ready and willing to come together in this difficult time.”
The initiative now includes Press Church, Delaware 3CU, COhatch and Journey Church, as well as Compassion Christian Church and the Second Ward Community Center. Spaces are available a different times on various days throughout the week, and registration is required ahead of time.
The SWCI is located at 50 Ross St. and is open on Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Students can register at https://www.swcidelaware.org.
Press Church is located at 425 S. Sandusky St. and is open on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students can register at https://airtable.com/shrE8BmJXm1LlHnAu.
Delaware 3CU is located at 162 Belle Ave. and is open to students on Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon and on Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Students can register at https://d3cu.churchcenter.com/people/forms/162636.
Compassion Christian Church is located at 41 Firestone Drive and is open to students on Thursdays and Fridays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Students can register at https://airtable.com/shr7urAobIH7eDeS3.
COhatch is located at 18 E. Williams St. and is open to online students only Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students can register at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfJLeETsSlBXWt2_wfjgDLkHdH4Djn5fhnIIz23ifcFT-oaCA/viewform.
Journey Church is located at 652 W. Central Ave. in Suite 18, and it is open to students on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Students can register at https://forms.gle/9EMeDRmc8FcVFGCJ8.
Gordon added the organizations are setting up an Instagram account with more information. The account can be found at @lecdelaware.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.