Pitching in to keep kids learning
“We challenge those who are able to step up and match our commitment, so that every family has the resources and tools to make distance learning possible. We are truly all in this together.”
The Rhode Island Foundation has committed $100,000 to help the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) provide computers and Wi-Fi hotspots to school communities with students and families in need. The Foundation has also issued a statewide challenge, encouraging individuals and local corporations to step up to match the amount.
The donation to the Fund for Rhode Island Public Education will help students and families struggling to access adequate distance learning technology and internet connectivity. Contributions to the fund can be made at rifoundation.org/RIEducation.
“Once again, Rhode Island Foundation has stepped up to play a powerful leadership role to close the gaps that prevent some Rhode Islanders from the full benefits of critical services like education."- Angélica Infante-Green, the state’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education
She continues, “In this era, access to technology can mean the difference between preparing for the future or being left behind. This commitment is just the latest example of companies, nonprofits and individuals stepping up to help our students – and our future.”
Statewide, the majority of students are able to access distance learning opportunities using technology provided by public school districts. However, through constant contact with each local education agency (LEA), RIDE has identified pockets of need in some school communities, including families where multiple siblings are sharing one Chromebook or households without access to internet connectivity.
“This is a moment for all Rhode Islanders to come together to support our students and our teachers. Our commitment is tailored to focus on the technologies that make equitable learning opportunities possible during this public health crisis."- Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation
He continues, "We challenge those who are able to step up and match our commitment, so that every family has the resources and tools to make distance learning possible. We are truly all in this together.”
Based on identified needs across the state, and using an equity lens, the Foundation’s commitment and challenge grant funds will be distributed to LEAs or used directly to purchase Chromebooks and hotspots via the Fund for Rhode Island Public Education. Charitable contributions to the Fund in any amount will be accepted. Once the challenge grant is fulfilled, RIDE estimates that approximately 500 hotspots and 400 computers will be available to close technology gaps.
Since distance learning began, a number of local companies and individuals have already assisted districts in the purchase of new technology. Cox Communications donated $25,000 to help the Central Falls School District buy 120 laptops and Fidelity donated 120 refurbished iPads that were given to three LEAs. Lenny Lopes purchased 15 laptops for Central Falls, while Tom Gilbane Jr., CEO of Gilbane; and Joe Paolino, former mayor of Providence, donated to the Providence Public School District to provide students with Wi-Fi access.