California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a program on Monday which would provide tutoring services for residents and millions of dollars in funding for public libraries.
The tutoring service, called HelpNow, will be available online 24/7 through the State Library, according to the press release. The program will offer support in language arts and mathematics in both English and Spanish. Other core kindergarten through 12th grade subjects are available, and support for speakers in more languages — such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Tagalog — will be available from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
“With historic investments to give the youngest Californians a strong start in life, enrich our schools and expand supports like tutoring, we’re building on our commitment to create more opportunities for every child in our state to thrive,” Newsom said in the press release.
Newsom also announced the first round of the California State Library’s $439 million Building Forward Library Improvement Grant Program, which will provide $254 million in grants for public libraries in 172 cities across 34 counties in the state.
The announcement emphasized that there is no age limit for the tutoring services, as they are intended not only for children but also for adults who will be able to receive writing assistance, citizenship resources and other learning tools.
“The larger point is this: as much as it can be, the service is designed to be one-size-fits-all for Californians with a device and an internet connection,” said Alex Vassar, communications manager for the California State Library, in an email. “If you have those two things, chances are this is accessible and usable for you.”
According to Vassar, round one of the program will prioritize funding in high poverty areas as well as libraries in need of critical life-safety maintenance and infrastructure. These projects will include improvements in seismic safety, building security, accessibility and better protection from severe weather.
According to the California State Library website, the grant program is intended to assist solely local public libraries. University libraries are thus not eligible to participate in the program because they are not categorized as public libraries. College, university or county law libraries are included in a separate section of the state budget, the website added.
The State Library sees the decision as a needed reinforcement for the significance of libraries in the lives of California residents and their communities, according to California State Librarian Greg Lucas.
“Strengthening public libraries strengthens California and helps make it easier for all Californians to get the information and assistance they need to succeed and thrive,” Lucas stated in the press release.