Merrillville Education Foundation helps students get connected The Merrillville School Board recently accepted a gift of $6,000 from the Merrillville Education Foundation to purchase hotspots for families who need internet connections.

During a normal school year, the foundation usually offers two rounds of grants to fund teacher projects based on innovative and creative approaches to learning in the classroom.

With the school corporation offering virtual learning during the first trimester, the foundation board chose instead to use its funds to help provide internet hookups for Merrillville families that have been challenged to provide basic internet for their children, a necessity when learning remotely.

“This year with the COVID-19 pandemic still upon us, we wondered if there was a different way the corporation could use our money to benefit the students besides the usual round of grants,” said Mary Hoffman, foundation executive director. “We also knew that teachers would be very busy with the challenges of e-learning and may not have time to write a grant this fall trimester.”

Hoffman said the donation should sponsor 25 hotspot set-ups.

“We greatly appreciate the funding from the education foundation,” said Steven Kerr, coordinator of network operations for Merrillville schools. “This will allow us to provide more students with internet access at home during virtual learning and in the future, as we expand the use of technology within the classroom.”

Kerr said the hotspots the school system uses are completely mobile and can provide the service to any of our families without any issues. He said they can also be reissued to different families as needed.

“The corporation has compliant filtering on those hotspots that will help keep our students safe,” Kerr said.

“With all these features in place, the MEF felt that our funds would be used wisely and are proud to, once again, work with the corporation for continued student success in school,” Hoffman said.

Since 2002, the Merrillville Education Foundation has awarded 436 grants to teachers totaling $378,082.66. These grants have impacted more than 119,476 student experiences in grades Pre-K through 12.