(BLOOMINGTON) – The Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County has created a new funding initiative to address child care costs and the need for virtual learning resources. The Learning Equity and Resource Needs for Children and Families (LEARN) Fund will help ensure Monroe County children and families have the resources needed for children to learn effectively despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With lead funding from IU Health Foundation and the IU Health South Central Region through a grant under the IU Health Community Impact Investment Fund and additional funding support from the United Way of Monroe County and the Community Foundation, the LEARN Fund is launching with $150,000 that will immediately be available to support children and families.
The LEARN Fund will be used for child care costs for low-income families or families facing extraordinary circumstances. Funds may also be used to support e-learning related expenses, technology, education services, or other resources children may need to learn effectively while in-person schooling is limited or not possible. Grants from the LEARN Fund will be distributed through child care providers, schools, and nonprofit organizations that work directly with children and families who need assistance.
“COVID-19 has brought unprecedented change to our lives,” said IU Health South Central Region President Brian Shockney. “The LEARN Fund is just one way IU Health is working with our local community to help those who could use some assistance. Children are our future, and this fund will help ensure that more youth in our area receive the child care and education they need during this next normal. Increased child care will also result in more parents and guardians being able to return to the workforce.”
The first proactive grant from this fund is a $30,000 grant to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington (BGCB) to immediately subsidize child care costs for school-aged children. In addition to its current programs, BGCB will expand its ability to provide affordable child care during the traditional school day for students who cannot be in school buildings full-time due to COVID-19 restrictions.
BGCB expects to be able to serve between 300 and 450 children with a pod-based child care model. The program will support as many as 30 youth child care pods, each serving 10-15 children in compliance with CDC and local health guidelines. The pods will be located in all three BGCB sites and in other off-site community locations. Thanks to grant support to subsidize this program from the Community Foundation’s new LEARN Fund, costs to families for the BGCB child care program will be $20 per week per child. Families interested in this program can find more information at
Since mid-March, the Community Foundation has been working with a coalition of local leaders, educators, and providers to address emergency and essential child care needs in Bloomington and Monroe County. This taskforce has regularly collected information to help understand the need for child care, the barriers to providing care, and strategies to provide care in environments defined by the implications of COVID-19.
In addition to the LEARN Fund, this Monroe County Child Care Task Force has proactively worked with the Community Foundation’s Monroe Smart Start program to:
- help essential workers identify and find available child care spots in Monroe County;
- Create a child care worker call out and match potential workers to paid employment opportunities;
- Film a child care safety video to help ease fears among families about returning to child care settings; and
- Develop a new COVID-related child care and learning resource website for families: https://www.monroesmartstart.org/families/learn-resources/
“The Community Foundation welcomes donations to the LEARN Fund,” stated Tina Peterson, President, and CEO of the Community Foundation. “Nothing is more important to the resiliency of our community than the care and education of our children. Resources from LEARN Fund will ensure that care is available to families that need it, children have a safe place to learn while their parents work, and that families have the technology they need to support learning.”
Visit https://www.cfbmc.org/donate-now/ and select “The LEARN Fund” from the “Select Fund Name” drop-down menu. You can also call the Community Foundation at 812-333-9016 to make your gift over the phone.
For more information on the LEARN Fund, please contact: