Amazon donation supports 'Right Now Needs' of students and families
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon is making another $1 million donation to support the immediate needs of thousands of students from underserved communities across Northern Virginia. Communities In Schools NOVA will distribute Amazon’s donation through a new “Right Now Needs Fund”—a flexible fund designed to meet the basic needs of schoolchildren and help eliminate barriers to learning. The Right Now Needs Fund in Northern Virginia will provide students with immediate access to urgently needed items including food, clothing, and school supplies across all 41 Arlington Public Schools and programs and all 18 Alexandria City Public Schools.
Site Coordinators and school social workers within each of the school districts and schools will work with families to identify individual student needs and request assistance from the Fund. Communities In Schools NOVA, leveraging existing relationships with both school districts, will distribute Amazon Education Assistance Product Vouchers – a prepaid payment designed specifically for education-related needs. Students and their families can redeem the vouchers for a wide variety of carefully curated items that students need to be successful at school, including food, school supplies for at-home learning, warm clothing, hygiene items, and more. By using the prepaid vouchers, students and families can redeem much-needed items in a dignified and convenient way.
“The start of this school year has been difficult for many families across our new home of Northern Virginia, and we are determined to provide support to the students who need it most,” said Jay Carney, Amazon Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs. “At Amazon, we are always looking for innovative solutions to tough challenges, and we are confident that the flexibility and speed built into our new Right Now Needs Fund will help ensure that more students from underserved communities can focus on their studies, and not fall behind as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.”
Amazon recently donated nearly 800 Mi-Fi devices and $75,000 to secure thousands of headsets for students across Northern Virginia starting the school year from home. In addition, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Amazon’s HQ2 region, Amazon donated $1 million to kick-start emergency response efforts, provided thousands of devices to groups supporting students in need, donated cash and in-kind products to local nonprofits and food banks, paid local restaurants to prepare and deliver 10,000 lunches and dinners for first responders, frontline healthcare workers, and vulnerable neighbors, and funded delivery services to provide more than 50,000 meals—60,000 pounds of food—directly to the doorsteps of local seniors and those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Amazon also donated $3.9 million to nonprofit CodeVA to help make virtual computer science curriculum and training available Virginia teachers and students so that they don’t fall behind in learning this increasingly important skillset. There are currently more than 50 schools and counting in the state of Virginia part of the Amazon Future Engineer program.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon is making a more than $2.5 million donation to support the immediate needs of thousands of students from underserved communities within the Puget Sound region. With this donation, Amazon is expanding its innovative Right Now Needs Fund, designed to meet the basic needs of schoolchildren and their families and eliminate barriers to learning, such as challenges with food, shelter, clothing, school supplies, and more.
Amazon will donate more than $1.4 million to Bellevue LifeSpring to launch a new Right Now Needs Fund in Bellevue to support students in need at all 28 Bellevue School District schools. The funds in Bellevue can be distributed to students immediately. In addition, Amazon’s $1.3 million donation to The Alliance for Education will expand the existing Right Now Needs Fund in Seattle across 104 schools.
The Fund was established by Amazon in late 2018 with an initial $2 million investment and has already provided Seattle Public Schools students with over 17,000 instances of support since inception for basic needs including everything from new eyeglasses to an asthma inhaler. To date, each of the 104 Seattle Public Schools have used the Right Now Needs Fund to help students. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, the Right Now Needs Fund in Seattle rapidly distributed more than $500,000 to students, a 27% increase from the same time last year, with the vast majority of those donations going towards food insecurity and housing assistance.
"The start of this school year is difficult for many families in need across the Puget Sound, and we want to provide more students from underserved communities with what they need to be successful while learning from home, whether that’s new technology, healthy meals, or a lifeline to call in a pinch," said David Zapolsky, Amazon General Counsel and Senior Vice President and Alliance for Education board member. “We value speed, flexibility, and scale when we build and operate. Our Right Now Needs Funds help schools exercise these same values to support students in the community, and we’re excited to extend this support to Bellevue with our support of Bellevue LifeSpring."
Family Engagement Specialists within each of the districts and schools work with families on identifying needs and submit requests for financial assistance through their respective nonprofit partner. In addition, any school community member can put in a request if they notice a specific student need.
In addition to the Right Now Needs Fund donations. Amazon recently donated $1 million to the City of Bellevue’s Health and Human Services Fund to support local families in need disproportionately affected by COVID-19. At the beginning of the pandemic, Amazon, Bellevue LifeSpring and the Bellevue School District created and implemented pilot programs to provide immediate food and hygiene products to families living in poverty in Bellevue. Amazon donated more than $60,000 in emergency funds to support students in Bellevue and Seattle, and donated 5,000 headsets to support students learning from home across the Puget Sound region. Amazon also donated nearly 9,000 laptops to Seattle Public Schools and is continuing to deliver thousands of meals for Seattle Public Schools students.