Dorsey dropped the news after Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tweeted a video of one of 25,000 students without access to technology. “Every student deserves to learn at home,” wrote Schaaf.
@jack quickly answered the call.
City officials say the funding will immediately help meet the needs of 50,000 Oakland public school students.
David Silver, the mayor’s director of education, said Dorsey’s gift was particularly timely.
About two months ago, when the coronavirus caused many school closings, Oakland schools distributed about 20,000 Chromebooks, said Silver. But because the students should send them back to school, a shortage persisted.
“Jack’s gift allows us to put a device in the hand of every Oakland child. And because he’s in now, we can order the computers, clean them, and by the time the kids get back to school in the fall, they’re ready, “said Silver.
This is not Dorsey’s first contribution to the fight against the impact of the coronavirus. Last month, he announced that he would donate $ 1 billion in Square shares to a charitable fund, called Start Small, to “fund the global relief of Covid-19” – by far the biggest gift to the fight. global response to the coronavirus pandemic.
This week Schaaf launched a program called Oakland Undivided, which aimed to raise $ 12.5 million to close the digital divide in the city once and for all. Thanks to Dorsey’s $ 10 million donation and funds already raised, the program is now only $ 700,000 below its target.
Silver, however, said that the fundraiser would continue. The appliances break; some are lost. Closing the gap for good meant raising $ 4 million a year each year, starting next summer, he said.
Just two weeks into the school year, almost 1,400 Oakland students still need a device and about 3,400 don’t have access to the Internet, Berkeleyside reported. Students who remain offline cannot access educational content and connect with teachers.
The need persists even in the shadow of Silicon Valley. As schools closed and teachers struggled to equip students with devices, the need for hotspots and internet access was often unmet. Backorders have increased, increasing wait times for unconnected students.
Lack of internet access is just one of the ways in which existing inequalities manifested themselves during the pandemic. The same families without the Internet often face food shortages or unstable living conditions – both of which have been exacerbated by the closure of businesses and parental unemployment.
Almost three-quarters of Oakland students are entitled to a free and reduced lunch, a proxy for poverty. About a third of all students are still learning English, according to state data.
Education officials fear the digital divide will only widen the performance gaps between poor and better-off families. An economist wrote an editorial in the New York Times predicting that the education gap would one day manifest itself in the workforce.
Dorsey’s gift will not be enough to close the digital divide in Oakland once and for all. But will definitely help. Schaaf called Dorsey’s announcement a “game changer.”