Learning Hubs Expansion Fund

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, a well-documented opportunity gap existed between socioeconomically disadvantaged (“SED”) students and their peers in San Mateo County. This gap widened dramatically under Covid-19, with school reopenings and student support correlating to the income levels of students’ families. Many youth-serving organizations in underserved communities launched learning hubs to support SED students: safe, supportive places for TK-12 students to engage in distance learning. Model programs included a partnership between a primary public agency (school district or city) and an existing after-school program plus tuition assistance or subsidies for participating students. 

Unfortunately, these programs only had access to resources to serve a fraction of San Mateo County’s 32,000 SED students. In response, the County of San Mateo established the Learning Hubs Expansion Fund in January 2021 to expand the learning hub system and increase access for SED students in the county. The grant program was developed by staff in collaboration with child care, out-of-school care, and youth-facing experts and advocates throughout the county, and was modeled on the San Mateo County Covid-19 Child Care Relief Fund. In addition, Community Equity Collaborative raised $475,000 from an anonymous private donor, totaling $1.98M fund that added 730 learning hub spaces for the remainder of the school year. 

Eligibility for this grant program was limited to nonprofits and public entities, such as cities and school districts, that committed to using the grant funds to expand the number of learning hub slots for SED students according to the guidelines in the grant program. Build Up SMC was part of the outreach team, along with other county offices and nonprofits to help disperse information about the grant program. 23 agencies and 74 learning hub cohorts applied for grant funding, totaling $2.68M in funding. 100% were nonprofit organization, 26% were school districts, 22% were after-school programs, 13% were Parks & Recreation Dept. programs, and 9% were licensed child care providers. 93% of the programs also provided free meals. 

Build Up served on the review panel that considered applications and selected the final recipients for the Learning Hubs Grant Program, alongside First 5 San Mateo County, the SMC Office of Education, San Mateo Credit Union, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, County Supervisor Dave Pine, former County Supervisor Carole Groom, and the County Manager’s office. Build Up offered vital experience in, knowledge of, and connections to the child care sector. The grant was administered by Community Equity Collaborative, a close partner of Build Up SMC. In total, $1.98M was distributed to 21 organizations and 58 new learning hubs were created to serve San Mateo County’s SED students. 

Read the Impact Report here.