The city Department of Education’s remote-learning program and Regional Enrichment Centers are getting a $15 million infusion from the Open Society Foundations, the nonprofit founded by liberal philanthropist George Soros.

The organization announced the donation last week, as part of a total of $37 million in donations to New York City to help combat the coronavirus pandemic’s economic and social effects.

The money is “to support New York City Department of Education's (DOE) school in providing emergency childcare and the remote learning of young and school-age children of essential workers on the frontlines, ranging from medical and emergency personnel to transit workers,” according to a release from the Open Society Foundations. The donation was made to the Fund for Public Schools’ NYC Schools COVID-19 Response Effort.

“The city has been relying on low income essential workers — from hospital staff to subway train and bus drivers. But their children can’t go to school and need childcare support. That’s where our childcare efforts are going,” said Patrick Gaspard, president of the Open Society Foundations, in a statement.

The DOE hailed the donation as much-needed: “Throughout this crisis, we’ve spared no effort to ensure our students and families feel safe and supported by their schools and by their city, and we’re so grateful for this generous gift,” said Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza in a statement. “With the support of the Open Society Foundations and the Fund for Public Schools, we can continue to enhance remote learning efforts for 1.1 million children and provide emergency childcare for essential workers—services New Yorkers need in the difficult months to come.”

The DOE’s remote learning program moved the country’s largest public school system completely online as the city and state went into PAUSE and schools shut down. The Regional Enrichment Centers were also established at the same time to provide childcare for essential workers.

"As our City's front-line workers do lifesaving work, they deserve quality care and continued learning for their children. This public-private partnership with Open Society Foundations will help us to do exactly that and to keep enhancing remote learning for our 1.1 million students. We could not be more grateful for this monumental gift, which will strengthen our school communities during such a critical time,” said Julie L. Shapiro, Chief Executive Officer of the Fund for Public Schools, in a statement.

One immigration advocate said the remote learning program also needs to help immigrant parents learn to navigate the system as well: “As schools have gone digital...there's a huge reliance on parents to assist their children and learning, and you know some of these folks don't have the skills necessary to assist their kids,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Vice President of Advocacy and Strategy, for the New York Immigration Coalition. “Which is why we're also urging the city to ensure that they re-fund adult literacy education, because it's just incredibly important even more so, now.” The NYIC's member organizations are calling on the DOE to improve its remote learning approach for multilingual learners, including increasing communication between schools and families.

Meanwhile, the city is still trying to distribute laptops and tablets to thousands of students who reported they didn’t have access to internet-connected devices. The DOE estimated 300,000 students needed such devices to participate in remote learning, and Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed these students would have a device by the end of the month.