The coalition received CARES Act funding of $ 1.4 million from Tulsa County that was used for COVID-19 mitigation items, employee salaries, and other expenses related to providing safe, consistent places for students during the day.

However, more than five months into the school year, there are still around 300 free childcare spots available across the city through facilities that partnered with the Opportunity project, such as the Boys and Girls Club, the Tulsa Department of Parks and Recreation, and that YMCA.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure that the resources allocated to the Opportunity project are used as efficiently as possible while trying to reach the maximum number of young people,” said Caroline Shaw, Executive Director of Opportunity Project.

The CARES Act money enabled TheZone to obtain a cleaning system that could help janitorial staff renovate the building frequently. Coupled with the facility’s mask requirement, enforced social distancing, and improving the building’s ventilation system, this has all helped TheZone avoid COVID-19 issues with its staff and students.

“We’re just trying to do our little part for the kids,” said Jackson.

For David Harris, TheZone’s decision to be open all day has been a blessing. He is self-employed and his wife works full time as a nurse, which makes it difficult at best to help her 10-year-old daughter with assignments during the school day.