Amazon to Donate 8,200 Laptops to Help Seattle Students Learn Online at 'Crucial Time'

The donation coincides with the launch of the Education Equity Fund, which will provide support and resources for students in need

Photo: Getty Images

Amazon is doing its part to help families in the Seattle Public School system as they adjust to online learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The company announced on its blog Monday that they are donating 8,200 laptops to students in SPS — the state’s largest school district — so those who do not have access to devices at home can continue their remote education.

The $2 million donation will cover all students at the elementary level, according to Amazon. The rest of the funds will go towards the goal of providing laptops to all other SPS students, with those who do not have access to devices receiving priority.

Laptops will be shipped directly to the students’ homes and the company said they can keep them permanently, “further supporting them in their educational journey beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“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,” Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon Web Services, said in the blog post. “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 said their donation also coincides with the launch of the Education Equity Fund.

The fund — which will be managed by the school district’s nonprofit partner, the Alliance for Education — will guarantee support and resources for students in need as they continue to learn remotely.

Businesses, community groups and individuals all have the ability to donate to the fund and help these students access technology, technical support and additional learning resources, according to the company.

“Amazon’s gift comes at a crucial time for our students,” Superintendent Denise Juneau said in the blog post. “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.”

Over 52,000 students currently attend Seattle Public Schools, with approximately 33% of them coming from homes with low incomes, The Seattle Times reported, citing state education data.

Since closing the city’s schools on March 12, SPS teachers have been instructed to follow specific protocols for online learning, such as checking in with families twice a week and providing learning materials online and at multiple school sites, the outlet reported.

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Amazon. Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty

Prior to the new efforts, Amazon has been lending its support to SPS students and families through the Right Now Needs Fund, which was established in October 2018 with a $2 million grant.

In partnership with the Alliance for Education, the fund supports all 102 SPS schools and aims to help “principals, teachers, and parents collaborate to remove students’ most basic barriers to learning, such as the need for food, clothing, and housing.”

The company already gave a $250,000 grant in 2019 for summer programming and said that in recent weeks, they’ve given another $150,000 to support families struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic — efforts which were recognized by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.

“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,” Durkan said in the release.

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“Seattle will get through this tough time by doing what Seattle does best and that is coming together,” Durkan added. “We’re lucky to have companies and non-profit organizations in the City that have risen to meet challenges of this pandemic.”

As of Monday, there have been at least 357,036 cases and 10,522 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the United States, according to the New York Times. In Washington State, at least 7,984 cases and 344 deaths have been reported, according to the outlet.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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