BOSTON, Massachusetts — The New Balance Foundation (NBF) on Wednesday announced a second round of COVID-19 pandemic relief grants totaling $375,000 to charities, organizations, and school districts in Maine and Massachusetts.
Boston-based New Balance Athletics, Inc. has footwear manufacturing facilities in Boston, Lawrence and Central Maine (Norway, Norridgewock, and Skowhegan). The grants will address the increasing inequities related to COVID-19 across education, technology access, and food security in communities dealing with hybrid or fully remote teaching models.
The Maine grants will go to Good Shepherd Food Bank and Maine School District 54, which covers the towns of the towns of Skowhegan, Canaan, Mercer, Smithfield, Cornville, and Norridgewock.
"As Maine School District 54 moved into hybrid learning, they encountered unexpected costs associated with digital learning," the foundation said in a news release. "The New Balance Foundation funds will enable the district to purchase subscriptions to digital books, websites, and other tools that students need; digital support services for reading and math to replace or supplement tutoring; and digital tools to communicate with students."
As part of its Youth and Family Initiative, Maine’s Good Shepherd Food Bank partners with more than 210 public schools, early childhood centers, and college campuses to provide easy, consistent access to nutritious food for students and their families.
“These funds will help school food pantries provide consistent access to nutritious food for 2,000 families. Our school partners not only serve as food distribution sites in vulnerable areas but are also a vital community resource hub where families feel welcomed, supported, and safe,” Good Shepherd Food Bank President Kristen Miale said.
The Massachusetts grants will go to West End House Boys and Girls Club, Lawrence Boys and Girls Club, Merrimack Valley YMCA, Dorchester Boys and Girls Club, and SquashBusters.
“Children from these communities already face higher levels of poverty, lack access to technology vital for remote learning and may not have adult presence to navigate online classes and assist with homework due to parents’ need to work to support the family,” Anne Davis, managing trustee for the New Balance Foundation, said. “Additionally, with many afterschool organizations currently closed or serving smaller groups of youth, children who rely on school and afterschool organizations for meals are now at greater risk of going hungry. New Balance Foundation has endeavored to close gaps in equity for 40 years and are proud to support our local communities in these unprecedented times.”
The grants from New Balance Foundation will help sustain the charities and their programs and serve kids from January through March 2021.
“The New Balance Foundation investment in our community’s Learning Hubs is a lifeline that gives our families the educational, social and emotional support vital to keeping their children engaged, healthy and academically on track while parents deal with job demands and other family dynamics heightened by the pandemic,” Dorchester Boys & Girls Club President and CEO Bob Scannell said.
In total, the New Balance Foundation said it has distributed more than $9 million in 2020, including annual Foundation grants and its first round of COVID-19 relief grants in Spring 2020 to help local, national and international organizations with immediate relief, including assisting with food access programs, operational costs and more.