First Steps and Metro by T-Mobile Partner to Provide Support to Teachers

When Greenville County Schools announced it would begin the school year with a hybrid attendance model- where students attend school face to face 1 or 2 days a week and are at home the remaining 3-4 days, no one was more impacted than Greenville School educators and staff.

Employees were forced to balance their professional schedule demands with the needs of their own children. Teachers were concerned because they were unsure of what childcare arrangements were available for their families. Where would their child stay during the day when they could not attend school for face to face instruction? Even if they could find care, how would teachers, with a starting salary of $40,000/year, afford an additional $150-$180/week for childcare?

“When the schools closed and instruction went virtual, it left many families in a bind,” said Lauren Briles, Board Chair for Greenville First Steps. "No one was more impacted than our teachers, who needed to return to work, but had young children at home. We knew we owed it to our teachers to help them out.”

Greenville First Steps secured $275,000 in public and private funding to support these Greenville County Schools employees. Metro by T-Mobile and Greenville County CARES Act funding was allocated to provide $100/week vouchers for more than 300 teachers, food service workers, custodians and bus drivers to help subsidize childcare costs while they returned to work.

As one teacher wrote: “This was a life changer! To know my son is safe, engaged, and cared for while I return to the classroom took an enormous burden off my family! I am so thankful to these funders for making this happen.”

“Giving back to communities all across the country is simply a no-brainer for us,” said Irene Kieweg, T-Mobile Vice President. “We’re proud to be part of this effort, particularly because of the need and opportunity to help support teachers, schools, and others who, under extraordinary circumstances, are dedicating themselves to giving the gift of education to our youth.”

This CARES funding, provided by Greenville County Council, was part of a $3.7 million investment in expanding childcare and school-age care options for families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership provided funding to help childcare providers, churches, schools, non-profits, businesses and community centers open their doors to ensure more than 4,500 Greenville County children had safe, affordable care when they were not in school.

The matching funds from Metro By T-Mobile were a game-changer,” said Briles. “While we had CARES funding to offer childcare vouchers, the need was greater than we could meet. Metro by T-Mobile came through with the funding we needed to ensure every Greenville County Schools employee was able to be served, and we thank them for their support.”

This week, Greenville County Schools announced a plan to see all elementary school children return to school by November 9. Additional planning is underway to ensure the middle and high school students return soon as well.