Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced $1.3 million in CARES Act Funding to support children and families through the county’s HoCo STRIVES (Strategies To Reach an Inclusive Vision and Equitable Solutions) initiative.
The $1.3 million investment will consist of:
Howard County Scholars Program – $750,000
$750,000 of CARES Act funds will be directed toward the Leaders of Tomorrow Youth Center which will administer the Howard County Scholars Program for in-person education of middle school students from September through December 2020. This program, at no cost to families, will engage students by supporting and supplementing virtual learning with social and emotional development and enrichment activities.
Digital Equity – $450,000
$450,000 of the HoCo STRIVES CARES Act will fund 500 hotspots and free Internet service to 500 families across the county to improve digital inclusion through a partnership between the Howard County Government, HCPSSS and the Bright Minds Foundation.
Food Access – $100,000
$100,000 of the HoCo STRIVES CARES Act funding will go to Howard County’s award-winning Roving Radish program to serve families who are unable to access other food resources in the county. This funding provides free meal kits and grocery boxes to 55 families per week and subsidized meal kits to 212 families.
Department of Community Resources and Services manages the HoCo STRIVES initiative, which focuses on children’s mental and behavioral health programs, academic, social and emotional learning supports, and community capacity building.
“Thank you to our county partners for enhancing the community supports necessary for our families. We realize that even more must be done to fully serve every child, family and person who is struggling during this pandemic,” said Michael Martirano, HCPSS superintendent. “Improved Internet access and technology to support learning, services that eliminate food insecurities and educational opportunities that overcome equity barriers will help to build upon the work we have done in this county over the last several months to help families support their children’s health, well-being and education.”
The Roving Radish has distributed 8,657 kits this year – nearly 3,300 more meal kits, a 38% increase, from last year at this time. Recently, the Roving Radish team moved into a new retail space in the Long Reach Village Center that will enhance and improve their preparation and distribution of meal kits.