CIS NOVA and Amazon have teamed up since the onset of the pandemic to provide all students and families across Alexandria City and Arlington with basic need support through Amazon’s Right Now Needs program, so students are ready to learn. These items include school supplies, clothing, shoes, undergarments, outerwear, PPE, books, and non-perishable food items. To date this school year, CIS NOVA has coordinated $475,000 in basic needs support across 47 schools, already serving nearly 27,000 students!

CIS coordinators and school social workers are also using Right Now Needs (RNN) to engage hard to reach families via family engagement learning series that support student learning across a variety of topics. For example, CIS NOVA partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to hold a series of parent workshops on online safety at William Ramsay Elementary School. To increase awareness and provide resources, CIS NOVA hosted a parent coffee during SEL/Bullying Prevention Month at John Adams Elementary School sharing tips and activities to support and educate their children. Site Coordinator, Molly Crum, states that “one way we’re working with hard to reach families is to host a variety of family/school learning events or series combined with RNN distributions.  Families receive items they need to thrive while learning about activities and skills to support student learning at home.” At Charles Barrett Elementary School, the social worker worked with the school nurse to provide a series of parent coffees to provide school supplies and share information about health, attendance and the importance of setting routines. 

In the spring, the social worker at Swanson Middle School is partnering with Virginia Cooperative Extensions on a four part series for vulnerable families on healthy eating and preparing healthy family meals. Additional efforts include providing additional resources regarding college access and financial aid for culturally diverse communities and first generation college prospects at Alexandra City High School. 

Across all schools, we continue to see the effects of the pandemic on student learning, attendance and mental health. For many families, recovery is slow and challenging, making RNN an important tool to support students and families. Though there is still much work to be done, Amazon’s RNN program has allowed CIS NOVA to make large strides towards meeting the needs of our students.