Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey stunned Oakland schools and city leaders on Friday with a $10 million donation to a campaign aimed at providing computers and internet access to all students in the Oakland Unified School District.
Dorsey wrote in a Twitter post:
“$10mm to give EVERY single child in Oakland access to a laptop and Internet in their homes, closing the digital divide.”
“Heard Mayor @LibbySchaaf and @OUSDNews’ call and funding immediately.”
Dorsey’s donation came after a group of city officials including Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and district Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammel held an online news conference Thursday announcing the effort. Schaaf posted a clip of the meeting on her Twitter page, prompting the response from Dorsey.
The city, district, Oakland Public Education Fund and the nonprofit organization Tech Exchange launched the campaign to raise $12.5 million, which Schaaf has said would ensure all of the district’s 50,000 students have internet access for online classes and studying.
Schaaf said in a Twitter post responding to Dorsey:
“Wow. Thank you @jack and all those joining us on the mission to close Oakland’s digital divide for good.”
The fundraising campaign was spurred by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic forcing students to learn and participate in class while at home. At the outset of the pandemic, roughly half of the district’s 50,000 students lacked Internet access.
The district has since loaned more than 18,000 Google Chromebooks from its school inventories to students across the city, but some 5,000 students and their families still lack proper Internet access and computer technology.
The campaign announced Thursday it has raised $2 million of a $2.5 million goal that would allow the district and the city to furnish all students in the district with internet access and computers through the end of the school year.
Johnson-Trammel said Thursday:
“The internet should be a public utility like water, power and even the freeway system, for all of us to use. Until we have universal broadband in this country, we need to do all we can to make the Internet available to our students.”
More information about the fund can be found at oaklandedfund.org/digitaldivide.