Community learning pods to help Minneapolis students

In north Minneapolis, community "learning pods" are helping students while they’re out of the classroom.

They are unique and innovative classrooms for students where each student is working on their distance learning school work from different teachers in different schools.

"It feels more like school than just being at home," said 13-year-old Kureim.

Kureim is in 7th grade at Fair Middle School.

"I just go every hour to a meeting with my teachers (online), " he explains.

Supervisors make the rounds helping with technology and classwork.

"As long as we know their learning platform and their schedule, we are able to troubleshoot, and help them with school away from home," says Jason Burns with S4LearningLabs.

There are 50 students in kindergarten through 8th grade at this YMCA learning pod, each pod cost $300,000.

That is why community donors have stepped in.

"The corporate community realizes we’ve got to be caring for these young people, and the YMCA historically cares for young people so the marriage has been terrific," said Glen Gunderson, president and CEO of the YMCA North.

Andersen Corporate Foundation, Securian Financial, U.S. Bank and Xcel Energy have donated more than a million dollars to the learning pods.

"The creation of this is moving quickly, not a lot of time to make it perfect, so we are making a significant financial impact," said John Marshall with Xcel Energy, a proud corporate sponsor.

All combined, the money will allow for eight learning pod sites at community locations and in churches, but the goal is much bigger.

"Our goal is actually to expand this in a really robust way, we’re interested in a statewide effort that would have more than 70 sites," Gunderson explains.

Free meals, outdoor activities, enrichment experiences and mental health support will supplement study time.

It’s an undertaking that aims to help several hundred young black and minority students.

"By creating spaces like this throughout the community, it allows us to continue to close the achievement gap, and it gives us a fair shot at helping students who are virtual learning, who needs supervision," Burns added.

The learning pods are free for families.

More information can be found here.