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Montgomery College has entered into a collaboration pilot with the Black and Brown Coalition, the Children’s Opportunity Fund (a component of the Greater Washington Community Foundation), Bar-T, and KidPower to offer Equity and Enrichment Education Centers at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring and Rockville campuses.

The Germantown Campus is not hosting the hubs due to the mass vaccination site that has opened there.

Each hub has MCPS students in grades K-8 learning remotely with adult mentors and supervision. Credit: Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence.

The Equity and Enrichment Education Centers, also referred to as equity hubs, are a distance learning option for families in need that offer a safe place for children to learn. Each hub has MCPS students in grades K-8 learning remotely with adult mentors and supervision. The programs run from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The hours of operation provide families optional before and after care and ensure children are able to attend their regular virtual learning sessions. The adult mentors are certified professionals and are not College employees.

Launched in February at facilities throughout the county, the Children’s Opportunity Fund and the Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence saw a need for low-cost childcare and distance learning support for Montgomery County public school students.

The pilot is being funded by the Children’s Opportunity Fund. It launched at the College in early April and will run through June 16. Priority is given to low-income students and students needing assistance with virtual learning. There are no scheduling or space conflicts with MC classes.

MC has been a real lifesaver in a way, to be able to provide space to finish this semester. It has been truly valuable to the community, to these young children and their families to know that their kids are going to be safe.

Byron Johns, co-founder of the Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence, says the organization’s research with the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health indicates the pandemic’s impact on many families across the county has been severe. “Especially to low-income communities, which are predominantly black and brown, [the pandemic impact] has been devastating, so these equity hubs were a way to help,” he said. The coalition had support from the Montgomery County superintendent of schools and support staff to identify students who were struggling with virtual learning.

The hours of operation provide families optional before and after care and ensure children are able to attend their regular virtual learning sessions. Credit: Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence.

The equity hubs are now serving 1,400 students at all their locations. Currently, the program can accommodate more students at both sites. Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus can accommodate 56 more students, and Rockville can add 40 students, with the ability to expand to 60.

Before reopening, elementary schools were housing the hubs. Having worked with the childcare providers from the area, Johns said, they were able to negotiate with MC for use of space on campus. “That’s where MC has been a real lifesaver in a way, to be able to provide space to finish this semester. It has been truly valuable to the community, to these young children and their families to know that their kids are going to be safe,” Johns said.

The College is charging the standard community-use fee for classroom space to offset cleaning costs and public safety staffing.

To ensure the safety of all parties involved, CDC guidelines are followed, and equity hubs require 14 days of temperature checks, or a COVID-19 test must be taken within 72 hours of starting the program. Daily temperature checks are conducted for all students in the program.

Learn more about Montgomery County’s Equity and Enrichment Education Centers here.

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