Giving Compass' Take:

• Small grants and microschools are helping create equity in pandemic pods by expanding access to these opportunities during COVID-19. 

• What are the main challenges for pandemic pods to be successful? 

• Read more about the need for collaboration on learning pods. 

The story of how Brandice Hatcher’s life fell apart near the start of the pandemic is by now a familiar one. The single parent of two, she couldn’t supervise her 2-year-old, help her 10-year-old with distance learning and return to her in-person job as a customer service representative.

Hatcher was preparing to homeschool her daughter and trying to get approval to open an in-home child care center when it occurred to her that her lousy circumstances might be hiding an opportunity. Before COVID-19, she had been working to launch a nonprofit that would mentor Black girls involved with the criminal justice system or at risk of ending up there.

Why not start a learning pod in her Wisconsin home? Other low-income parents could keep their jobs while she oversaw remote learning for six girls in grades 4 through 8 — with a hefty dose of the Black girl magic she had in mind for her nonprofit.

Using a $10,000 grant from the National Parents Union, Hatcher is in the process of opening her Righteous Voice Mentoring pod. The girls under her tutelage will stay enrolled in the Madison Metropolitan School District, but with additions such as membership in the national Black Girl Book Club, encounters with strong Black women in their community and other activities to promote the development of healthy identities.

“A place where they can come and do their learning and get a little bit more about what it means to be a Black girl,” Hatcher explains. “I’m bringing a little of my mentoring into it.”

Her grant includes $600 for bean bag chairs and other seating, $200 for storage space for materials, $200 for headphones and school supplies, $1,000 for food, $500 for book club subscriptions, $400 for art supplies and a $6,000 stipend for Hatcher.

Read the full article about pandemic pod by Beth Hawkins at The 74.