Denver mom who started pandemic pod awarded $15,000 grant for homeschooling

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DENVER — A room full of school kids in Joanna Rosa-Saenz’s basement is certainly not ideal.

“I’m a single mom who has to provide for my kids,” Rosa-Saenz said. “So, school is important to me.”

She, just like so many other parents with school-aged children, has launched a homeschool-like arrangement in her basement, known as pandemic pod.

“The basement was a playroom and then it turned into a classroom,” Rosa-Saenz said.

Her pod now has ten students ranging in ages from four to 13. Rosa-Saenz is teaching all of them.

She has been advocating for more resources for parents.

“I think we should mirror what North Carolina is doing and that is giving some sort of stipend to the families,” Rosa-Saenz said.

While that hasn’t happened, through her advocacy, she connected with the nonprofit Transform Education Now, or TEN.

“We exist to really work alongside parents like Joanna as they navigate the education system and demand better access to high quality learning,” TEN co-founder Nicolas Martinez and his team encouraged Rosa-Saenz to apply for a National Parents Union (NPU) homeschool pod grant. “I said, ‘Why not?’”

The NPU is supported financially by members and donors, and Rosa-Saenz application was selected.

“I am so humbled; I can’t believe that my little pod is going to get $15,000,” she said.

The grants, ranging from $100 to $25,000, can be used by parents to pay for tutors, school supplies, transportation, etc.

Rosa-Saenz is encouraging other parents to apply, as well.

“If I can do it, so can you,” she said.

A much-needed boost for parents stuck in a situation with no clear end in sight.

“It is open to families that need help just like myself,” she said. “I can point the finger all day, but my goal is to figure out the solution.”