Amazon donates 8,200 laptops to Seattle Public Schools families
Amazon is donating 8,200 laptops to Seattle Public Schools (SPS) families to help all students within the state's largest school district gain access to a device so they can continue their education at home. Amazon's permanent, direct to student donation, valued over $2 million, meets the estimated need for elementary students and will help toward the goal of providing all SPS students with access to a device while at home so they can participate in those parts of continuous learning that call for online access. SPS will prioritize distribution of laptops to elementary students who do not have access to a device at home.
"Amazon's gift comes at a crucial time for our students," said Denise Juneau, Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. "We've never lost sight of the need to continue our students' education—even during this unprecedented time—and our community partner Amazon now makes it easier to keep moving forward with the critical work of teaching and learning."
SPS closed schools on March 12 and immediately focused on providing students and families with core needs—meal distribution at 26 sites, as well as an overall approach to remote learning. As the breadth of the challenge for continuous learning came into focus, SPS and the Alliance for Education worked together on finding solutions to support all students and families.
Amazon's donation also kick starts a new fund, the Education Equity Fund, stewarded by the school district's nonprofit partner, the Alliance for Education. This new fund will support students furthest from educational justice in accessing the technology, technical support and additional learning resources required to continue to learn during the COVID-19 crisis. Businesses, community groups, and individuals interested in contributing support for students can get started here.
"Making sure our kids have the ability to keep learning is one of the most important things we can collectively do during the COVID-19 crisis," said Andy Jassy, CEO, Amazon Web Services. "With this donation, we're focused on Seattle students from underserved and underrepresented communities who otherwise would not have access to these devices—which helps enable SPS to educate and assist all of their students during this pandemic."
Amazon is working closely with Seattle Public Schools to ship laptops directly to students. Students receiving laptops from Amazon will keep the laptops permanently, further supporting them in their educational journey beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amazon is also supporting SPS students and their families through the Right Now Needs Fund—an Amazon partnership with the Alliance for Education that helps principals, teachers, and parents collaborate to remove students' most basic barriers to learning, such as the need for food, clothing, and housing. Amazon created the fund in October 2018 with an initial $2 million grant. The fund grants support to all 102 SPS schools, so staff and community members have the resources to address the urgent and basic needs of their students. The Alliance for Education disburses funds to schools according to student needs; schools that have higher rates of poverty among their student body receive more support.
"Measures from the City, County and State to combat the spread of COVID-19 have had an impact on our day-to-day lives and that couldn’t be truer for our students. Despite schools closing, it is important for students to be engaged and I commend Amazon for stepping up to meet the needs of kids who may not have equal access to the tools they need to keep learning at home," said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. "Seattle will get through this tough time by doing what Seattle does best and that is coming together. We’re lucky to have companies and non-profit organizations in the City that have risen to meet challenges of this pandemic."
Amazon has provided continuous support for the Right Now Needs Fund, including an additional $250,000 grant for 2019 summer programming and another $150,000 grant to enhance capacity to support families experiencing extra hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, since the COVID-19 crisis began, unsolicited contributions from community members and other philanthropic sources have augmented the fund. Since mid-March, the Right Now Needs Fund has seen a 100 percent increase in requests, primarily for food support. SPS students and families should work with their SPS school staff to request funds. Learn more about the Right Now Needs Fund and how to request support here.
In 2019, Amazon provided 30 Title I Seattle Public Schools with an Amazon Future Engineer Robotics grant to inspire the next generation of computer scientists, with a focus on students from underrepresented and under-served communities. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Amazon Future Engineer, Amazon's childhood to career computer science access program, is offering free computer science learning opportunities for U.S. students, teachers, and parents. Find out more here, and learn more here about how Amazon is supporting its employees, customers, and communities during the COVID-19.