Funding Opportunity: Bridging the Learning Gap (Round 2)

Formerly known as Bridging the Homework Gap, we’ve broadened this funding opportunity, available exclusively to NCF affiliated funds, to Bridging the Learning Gap. Round 2 applications are being accepted now with a deadline of 5:00PM, July 21, 2020.

Apply Here


In May 2020, a total of $263,045 was awarded to 23 NCF affiliated funds to benefit 31 Greater Nebraska schools to help them bridge the homework gap in their communities. This investment of $263,045, made possible by gifts from an anonymous donor and the Alice DeVoe Donor-Advised Fund, was matched at least 1:1 with other local philanthropic support, including annual payout from community unrestricted endowments. Existing school district resources did not count as eligible match. Details on the 23 grants appear on page 2 and 3.

In July 2020 a second round of grants will be awarded. These grants will be focused on bridging the learning gap, which will be defined locally and more expansively than the homework gap. While the funding opportunity will still exist for schools seeking assistance with computer equipment,software, and internet access, it will be broadened to include programs and initiatives aimed at narrowing the learning gap including personnel costs for individualized instruction for at-risk and special education students, unfinished learning (social, emotional, intellectual), professional development for educators, mental health services, and community engagement with students.


In 2016 Jessica Rosenworcel of the Federal Communications Commission stated “Seven in ten teachers assign homework that requires access to broadband, but one in three households do not subscribe to broadband service. Where those numbers overlap is a new digital divide – call it the homework gap.”

Efforts to create equity among all Nebraska students are underway, but probably still many years off. Federal and state governments will have to take on a significant leadership role to achieve broadband access for all. In the interim, there are steps that can be taken at the community level to bridge elements of the homework gap.

In 2020 we’ve found the learning gap to be so much more than computer equipment and access to broadband. Remote learning is extraordinarily challenging for students, educators and families. These new and unfamiliar circumstances have created confusion and anxiety for many.

In August 2020 students will be returning to school. But in very different circumstances than in early 2020. The COVID-19 virus is still a threat. Some schools will be requiring students to wear masks. Others will be limiting the number of students attending in person, or limiting the number of students any individual educator interacts with. Plans are in flux and will continue to be so as circumstances change. It seems likely that some remote learning will continue or resume in many schools.

Selection Process

Grants will be selected by a fund advisory committee of six volunteer NCF affiliated fund leaders who have educational expertise, including teachers, administrators and school board members.

The exemplifies the best of NCF’s community-building practice, including a focus on local control and discernment, open source architecture, relationships and trust, generative processes, partnerships and abundance.

Grants Awarded May 2020

Nebraska Community Foundation affiliated funds to receive funding and the beneficiary schools are:

  • Auburn Public Schools Foundation Fund to purchase laptops ($5,000); Auburn Public Schools
  • Bennet Area Community Foundation Fund to purchase Chromebooks and accessories ($5,000); District OR1 Schools, Palmyra
  • Boone County Foundation Fund to improve internet access, provide wages for personal instruction and Chromebooks for local students ($20,000); Boone Central Public Schools; Riverside School, St. Edward Public School, St. Michael’s Catholic School
  • Brown County Community Foundation Fund to finance a summer program to help both elementary and high school students with unfinished learning ($5,000); Ainsworth Public Schools
  • Butler County Area Foundation Fund to purchase Chromebooks and software ($2,750); David City Public Schools
  • Columbus Area Future Fund to assist with summer school transportation, trauma-informed practice for staff and purchasing devices ($20,000); Columbus Public Schools, Lakeview Community School
  • Dorchester Community Foundation Fund to purchase Chromebooks and MacBook Pros ($20,000); Dorchester Public Schools
  • Friend Area Fund to purchase Chromebooks for students and laptops for teachers ($20,000); Friend Public Schools
  • Humboldt Area Community Foundation Fund to expand summer learning support ($5,250); Humboldt Public Schools
  • Keith County Foundation Fund to purchase Chromebooks and other devices ($10,000); Ogallala Public Schools
  • Legacy Fund for Seward County to purchase the Pathblazer educational program ($19,500); Centennial Public Schools, Milford Public Schools, St. John Lutheran School, St. Vincent DePaul Catholic School, Seward Public Schools
  • McCook Community Foundation Fund to purchase Chromebooks and internet hotspots ($20,000); McCook Public Schools
  • Nebraska City Community Foundation Fund to purchase Chromebooks, iPads, reading software and improve broadband access ($17,785); Lourdes Central Catholic Schools, Nebraska City Public Schools
  • Newman Grove Community Foundation Fund to provide technical assistance to students and teachers ($10,000); Newman Grove Public Schools
  • Norfolk Area Community Foundation Fund and Rudolph Elis Donor-Advised Fund to purchase internet hotspots and access lines ($23,560); Norfolk Public Schools
  • O’Neill Community Foundation Fund to provide support for at risk students ($6,000); O’Neill Public Schools, St. Mary’s Catholic School
  • Overton Area Community Fund to purchase iPads and Chromebooks ($5,000); Overton Public Schools
  • Perkins County Community Foundation Fund to purchase hard drives, laptops and internet hotspots ($5,000); Perkins County Public Schools
  • Ralston Community Foundation Fund to improve broadband access and technology for summer school virtual learning ($10,000); Ralston Public Schools
  • Shickley Community Foundation Fund to purchase Chromebooks ($8,200); Shickley Community Schools
  • Thedford Area Community Foundation Fund to purchase iPads ($5,000); Thedford Public Schools
  • Verdigre Community Foundation Fund to purchase iPads and keyboards ($20,000); Verdigre Community Schools

For more information contact:

Steve Brewster, 402.340.9937,

Kristine Gale, 402.822.0466,

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