LOWVILLE — A grant funding stream that paid for summer jobs for students was rendered unnecessary in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic, so the Pratt Northern Foundation repurposed the money to work against the negative impacts of the health crisis as the COVID-19 Community Impact Fund.

The foundation announced this week that it has awarded almost $205,000 to 12 organizations with projects or programs “that will positively impact the areas of our community that have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

With the suspension of their Workership and Careers Here student summer employment programs this year, Executive Director Karen Petersen posted the change of plans and call for applications for grants from “programs and projects that will provide immediate support and relief to problems that the community is struggling with as a result of COVID-19” on Sept. 1.

Six of the 12 applicants that were granted awards are schools seeking to alleviate the challenges faced with virtual classrooms for families without internet access.

Beaver River Central School District requested and was given $25,577, to transform four of its buses into mobile hotspots.

“What we found out about the connectivity of our district is that it’s really not too bad, but when it is bad, it’s really about the location of where they are,” said District Superintendent Todd Greene.

Because there are so many households without even cell phone coverage enough to enable hotspot devices, the idea is to park the buses in key locations closer to where students live in these tech dead zones.

“The thinking is that they could then either get on a heated bus if they needed to or they would be able to be near the bus for sort of a public hotspot,” said Mr. Greene. “We’re trying to make bigger hotspots throughout the district.”

The Lewis County Development Corporation has matched the foundation’s $10,000 grant with another $10,000 from Lewis County for economic development services to create the “Winter Design Challenge” through which businesses around the county can submit their ideas to create safe indoor or outdoor spaces in which to provide services, for example, heated igloos for outdoor dining or simply space heaters for existing outdoor dining spaces.

The “Challenge” will provide up to 50 percent of the funding not to exceed $1,000 to make their ideas happen in order to help local tourism, entertainment and hospitality businesses survive through winter as the pandemic continues.

Other grant recipients include:

For internet hotspots:

- Adirondack Central School District: $12,800;

- Harrisville Central School District: $14,300;

- Lowville Academy and Central School District: $10,240;

- South Lewis Central School District: $26,000.

For Chromebooks for remote learning:

- Copenhagen Central School District: $18,508

For a reading and tutoring program:

- Erwin Library and Institute: $7,474

For programming and tuition costs for families in need:

- Hand in Hand Early Childhood Center: $10,000

For a Zoll ventilator:

- Lewis County Search and Rescue: $16,894

To provide local produce and cooking and nutrition classes to in-need families:

- North Star Food Hub: $13,000

To offset budgetary shortfalls due to the pandemic:

- Volunteer Transportation Center: $20,000

A total of 25 proposals were submitted to the foundation, totalling about $471,000 requested. All of the proposals were referred to as “worthy” and “creative.”

“(We) are looking forward to the positive impact that these projects/programs will have within the community and are hoping that they will create a ripple effect that continues on even beyond the current pandemic situation,” the foundation’s Board of Directors said in the news release on the awards.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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