Springfield schools, nonprofit launch online portal to help students outside of classroom

The Springfield City School District and The Nehemiah Foundation, a local faith-based nonprofit, collaborated to launch an online portal that will help students outside of the classroom.

The platform, called CarePortal, is a national tool that’s been used in Job and Family Services Departments and relies on assistance from local churches, according to the district.

Springfield is one of the first school districts to use the portal. When a staff member identifies a student’s needs can’t be met by other means, they refer that need to the Family Outreach team, who will then input it into the portal system. Churches in the system are alerted to the need and can respond to it.

“Many of our local churches have the resources,” said Tami Carter, Nehemiah’s CarePortal director. “They have the heart, the manpower and the passion to bless the most vulnerable in our community, but they often lack the inroads in making connections with them. We like to say that we are not a ‘glorified Amazon,’ where we simply ‘drop and go.’ It’s important that we help that family feel known and supported in the process of helping meet a physical need.”

CarePortal was piloted during the second semester of the 2021-22 school year at eight district buildings, and will expand to all buildings this school year. During the pilot launch, over 40 children were served, which equaled $8,000 in goods and services.

Although the portal can be used for tangible needs such as beds or clothing, it has also proven effective for providing services to families including transportation, immigration court assistance or car repair.

“One hundred percent of our requests were fulfilled during CarePortal’s pilot. That speaks volumes about the generosity of Springfield,” said Pam Shay, director of Springfield’s federal programs. “This portal allows us to create a community beyond the walls of the school building, especially for many of our families who are new to Springfield or are nonnative English speakers. CarePortal connects them to resources and real people who want to see our community members and students succeed.”

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