MILWAUKEE -- — For Bregetta Wilson and her fifth-grader, Raashida, the launch of virtual learning was overwhelming for an obvious reason.
"Not having the additional support with a computer, she missed a lot of assignments," said Wilson, of Milwaukee.
Not anymore. Her family is one of about 120 in Milwaukee that received a free laptop through the STEAM and Dream program. American Family Insurance donated $50,000 to support it in the city.
"It's about access and opportunity and fueling dreams of our community members, students, adults," said Leana Nakielski, Strategic Partnerships Director with American Family.
The program focuses on curriculum exposing kids and young adults to science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM). Students are also assigned a mentor. If you ask Raashida, it's fun.
"You have to put little blocks together to make words and control your character to make the game go," she said.
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This learning was supposed to happen in person at Milwaukee's Sherman Phoenix, but that was called off because of the pandemic. Instead of canceling, American Family worked with the business park and with other Milwaukee business partners like Jet constellations, Connect Business Consulting, and Cascade Computer Maintenance.
"To be able to do this during this global pandemic, and connect students with mentors and still offer quality programming is really what the mission of our work in Milwaukee is all about, to begin with," continued Nakielski.
Raashida is now caught up on her school work and the stress at home is manageable.
"And it allows for us moms to be able to do work too, working from home and to have your child be focused on programming outside of school work that can keep their attention," mom, Bregetta said.
American Family says more laptops are going out to families in the coming weeks. The program goes until the end of the month but starts back up in the middle of June.
If you are a family without access to a computer or you want to mentor a student in the program, you can call 414-758-6599, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.