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INMED USA: Bridging the Digital Divide and Connecting At-Risk Children and Caregivers with Essential Services During the Pandemic

INMED USA is adapting its program delivery model to keep at-risk children connected to their schools, food assistance and support networks.

Photo of Alexandra South
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What is the need are you focusing on?

In affluent Loudoun County, Virginia, INMED USA established the Family & Youth Opportunity Center in 2014 at its headquarters location to serve the needs of socially and economically disadvantaged children and families. Indeed, INMED USA’s program participants are among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic: immigrants and low-income workers confronting job losses in service industries, many of whom are ineligible for unemployment or sick pay and living in non-traditional housing with no protection against eviction, as well as young children whose families face language barriers and a lack of access to the technology resources that have now become essential for online learning. It is at this time that they need us the most, not only to serve as a lifeline to basic needs, health and crisis services, but to keep their children, who are at great risk of “falling through the cracks,” connected to their schools and support networks.

Which type of submission are you sharing?

  • Sharing an actual pivot your organization has already made

Describe the business pivot or adaptation in 3-4 sentences.

INMED’s Family & Youth Opportunity Center typically serves 150 families per week. Since the coronavirus crisis began, that number has skyrocketed to upwards of 500 weekly. INMED is working with community partners to coordinate donations of diapers, formula and other essentials and connect families to vital services. INMED quickly adapted its after-school program upon closure of the local schools. We compiled creative home learning kits for the children, while also assisting parents—many of whom face language barriers—navigate the challenges of distance learning through virtual support. And amid an uptick in domestic violence, our staff compiled a resource book for each of our families on positive discipline, dealing with stress, managing home finances, and more. We are proud of our impact to date—but much remains to be done. With your partnership, we can continue to pivot our programming to address the urgent needs of these most vulnerable families.

Do you plan to implement this solution?

  • Yes

Describe the impact that this solution will create in the world.

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the digital divide in our community, and the lack of access to technology that leaves many of the most vulnerable children and families behind. We recognize that while we continue to expand our use of appropriate technology and distance learning, we must also provide the access and education necessary for underserved children to benefit. Already, INMED is pivoting to serve some 500 families per week, and we anticipate this number will only increase as businesses remain closed and unemployment soars. A grant of $10,000 from OpenIDEO would allow INMED USA to continue developing innovative strategies and tools to reach at-risk children and their parents—and the resources necessary to implement them—in the immediate term, including: - An online curriculum and tailored remote learning plan for each child - Enhanced parent training and guidance, including weekly video meetings, in Spanish - Safe distribution of emergency supplies to hungry families.

What is the name of your business or organization?

INMED Partnerships for Children

What does your business/company do? Whose needs does your business/company address? Who do you serve?

INMED Partnerships for Children ( is a nonprofit international development organization that has worked in more than 100 countries to create pathways for vulnerable children, families, and communities to achieve well-being and self-reliance. In the USA, through our two-generation bilingual approach, we focus on youth programs that improve academic achievement, as well as parent education and support programs that build healthy family units in which all children can thrive long-term.

What is your profession?

Non-profit international development and programs professional

Where are you located (country)?

United States

Where are you located (region)?

  • North America

What industry is your business/company in?

  • Non-Profit/Philanthropy

How many people does your business/company employ?

  • 50-249

How old is your business/company?

  • 10 or more years old

Which classification describes your organization/business?

  • Nonprofit/NGO

What kind of stakeholders and partnerships are needed to pursue this solution?

  • Funding- Grants
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- NGOs
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Private Sector
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Government
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Civil Society Groups
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Grassroots/Community Groups

Do you need help building partnerships and finding partners?

  • No

What do you think are the main barriers to implementing this solution?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when disadvantaged families need more help than ever, INMED’s After-School Program Coordinator has rapidly transformed our program delivery to ensure that children continue to receive the educational support they need. Our US Programs Director has also changed how we coordinate with community partners to address the crisis. Yet we can no longer depend on the monthly program fees, summer fundraising events or thinly-stretched INMED general funds to help cover the increased educational demands, emergency needs and adaptations INMED’s program participants require.

If you are currently working on a pivot, what have you learned so far?

Perhaps the greatest lesson INMED’s staff have learned to date is how widely the digital divide stretches among our program participants. Many of our families do not have access to technology or WiFi, and those who do sometimes share limited cell phone data or a child’s school-issued Chromebook with others in the home. Even fewer parents have the technological literacy needed to fully access virtual services or educational tools provided by public schools to help their children continue the school year. Because our families have not had regular access to technology, we are providing virtual training sessions to parents in how to use email and communications tools like Zoom or Google Meet while customizing distance learning packets for pick-up outside the Center to fulfill each child’s individual educational needs.

Are you aware of any open source efforts, hackathons or other collaborative efforts related to your solution? Are you participating in these efforts?

INMED is working with virtual learning services, such as The Coder School of Ashburn and Sylvan Learning Center of Leesburg, to help us develop best practices for keeping students learning while staying safe online. We are also collaborating with The Coder School on a fundraiser to help us collect and distribute donated laptops to families navigating the COVID-19 crisis without access to technology at home. This effort is just one of many INMED is leading to address the digital divide.

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Isaac Jumba

Welcome to the challenge Alexandra South , really exciting to learn about your pivot and your focus on on serving the at-risk children:)

We thought it might exciting to have you be part of the COVID-19 Reimagine Learning Challenge: where you could share your concept, learnings and connect with other community members (such as schools, educators, students and innovators) re-imagining learning at this time and beyond.

Photo of Alexandra South

Thank you, Isaac, for your interest in INMED USA's work! The Reimagine Learning Challenge looks like it could also be a great fit for our efforts to get education to kids who need it most during this crisis. I will check it out! All the best to you.