#OaklandUndivided Campaign Completes Phase I of Device Distribution with Special Amazon Delivery to OUSD Students at School
Oakland – On Tuesday, April 27, exactly one month before the final day of the 2020-21 school year, a recognizable gray Amazon truck will be making several special deliveries at an OUSD school. The delivery driver will be meeting Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to drop off three of the final devices from the first phase of the #OaklandUndivided (#OU) campaign. Due to heavily impacted supply chains, touchscreen devices for our youngest students and those with special needs have only recently arrived, replacing school loaners that students were equipped with earlier this school year. Just as important, many new students enroll in OUSD throughout the year and we are ensuring all of them receive access regardless of when they join a school community.
As one of the many #OU partners that have come together across our community to support our most vulnerable Oaklanders, particularly Latinx, and Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) students and families, Amazon has made a major contribution to the effort – in addition to two financial investments since the launch. Earlier this month, Amazon supported the distribution of 1,300 new touchscreen Chromebook devices to our students to help close out Phase I of the campaign and ensure every student in need has access to a computer, internet, and culturally competent tech support.
#OaklandUndivided is a partnership between the City of Oakland and Mayor Schaaf, the Oakland Promise, Tech Exchange, the Oakland Public Education Fund and OUSD aimed at closing the digital divide once and for all. At the start of the campaign in spring 2020, the #OU team, school staff and volunteers surveyed more than 34,000 students. Based on this Tech Check survey, only 12% of students from low-income backgrounds were connected with a computer and internet access at the start of the pandemic. But due to the efforts of the #OU team, tech access has increased to 98% across all demographics, including students from low-income backgrounds, African-American and Latinx. In addition to this dramatic increase in connectivity, #OU also met the estimated need of 25,000 students who lacked consistent access to computers and tech support. In fact, due to the pandemic, the survey showed the need to be even greater, and #OU is proud to have surpassed the original 25K target, and handed out computers to 28,500 students, along with providing all students in need internet access and guaranteed tech support.
“These computers are absolutely critical to ensuring that all of our students receive an equitable education, because if you cannot access the internet at home, you cannot fully access your education,” said Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell. “It is incredible that in less than a year, especially during a worldwide pandemic, we have reached the point where we are finishing the first phase. Of course, we couldn’t have done it without the amazing partners who have stepped forward to support this effort. We send our deepest appreciation to Amazon for being there for our children.”
Amazon joins the effort to ensure that all Oakland public school students have the tools they need to succeed not just at school, but also at home. “Amazon is strongly focused on supporting education equity for students in the Bay Area, which can be especially challenging when internet access or devices are not available in the home,” said Sally Kay, Senior Manager of External Affairs at Amazon. “These devices will help students in Oakland Unified School District connect to the resources they need to be successful.”
“Closing the digital divide for good is within reach for Oakland,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “Our deepest thanks go to our founding leadership and funding partners, like Amazon, which has made two significant investments and helped us deliver devices to students and schools. As we embark on the next phase of this remarkable effort, we will continue to work with our community and partners to ensure that every child in Oakland has access to a computer and internet and culturally competent tech support.” Moreover, the #OU initiative empowered OUSD teachers to more effectively meet the needs of students as distance learning became a necessity.
As the Mayor alluded to, #OU looks to close out Phase I, and get ready to launch Phase II in June to ensure that all students can stay connected – with access to a computer, internet and tech support in the upcoming school year and beyond. We are grateful for Amazon and other partners including Jack Dorsey, Mark Pincus, Gilead, PG&E, Salesforce, Koshland, Barrios Trust, CETF, Niantic, Lam Research, and the Golden State Warriors, all of whom made significant financial commitments to make Phase I a reality. Many of these investors and other potential new partners are also considering contributing as we launch Phase II with the Mayor and Superintendent in June to close the digital divide for good.
We are aiming to secure commitments of $6M to launch Phase II and commit that all students in need in Oakland public schools will continue to have access to a computer, internet and culturally competent tech support for the upcoming 2021-22 school year. This means that all students who are new to the district or city will get a computer and internet connection, as we will renew internet agreements for an estimated 12,500 students to stay connected in 21-22, and support more than 40,000 students with tech support for the upcoming school year. (In addition to new kindergarten students, many students in all grades arrive from elsewhere across the country and around the world every year.)
If you want to learn more, or know of an Oakland public school student who may need access to a computer, internet or tech support, please visit www.oaklandundivided.org. If you’d like to join our #OaklandUndivided movement and become a partner, make a donation and/or potentially being a part of our Phase II Launch with the Mayor and Superintendent, contact David Silver, Director of Education for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf at Dsilver@oaklandca.gov.
Post based on press release from OUSD to Zennie62Media.
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