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With Zynga’s Mark Pincus $700k Donation Oakland, OUSD Hit $12.5 Million Close Digital Divide Goal

Within Days of Announcing $12.5 Million Campaign to Close the Digital Divide, OUSD and City of Oakland Meet the Goal with Final $700,000 Donation from Zynga Founder, Mark Pincus, as Next Fundraising Phase Ramps Up

Oakland, CA – On Wednesday, May 20, OUSD and the City of Oakland are announcing that their six-day old goal of raising $12.5 million to complete phase 1 of closing the digital divide has been achieved, which will provide every Oakland public school student in need with access to a computer and internet for the upcoming school year.

On Thursday morning, May 14, the District and the City, in partnership with Tech Exchange and the Oakland Public Education Fund, along with numerous supporters, launched the city-wide #OaklandUndivided campaign and announced in a press conference the ambitious goal to support all OUSD students who need technology and internet access at home. The final funding came as a $700,000 donation from Mark Pincus, the founder of the online gaming company, Zynga. By last Thursday, the coalition had raised $1.8 million, so the $700,000 on top of a $10 million donation Friday brought the total to $12.5 million.

In the press conference, both Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf shared impassioned calls for the business community to support this critical effort, as did Skyline High School 11th grader, Jessica Ramos. The first to hear the call and respond was Jack Dorsey, Twitter and Square co-founder and CEO, who donated the $10 million through the #StartSmall philanthropic initiative that he founded to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the community. Shortly thereafter, Pincus says he too heard the call, and inspired by Dorsey’s generosity, decided to support the effort and close the first phase of the campaign with the $700,000 donation to ensure the access to technology.

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“The program created by OUSD and the City of Oakland will play a critical role in allowing students to be connected and develop the critical skills they will need to succeed and make a positive impact on the world,” said Pincus. “I was inspired by how quickly and generously Jack responded and I was excited to be able to complete the first phase of the program.”

“Once again, I am amazed and humbled by the generosity of these leaders of technology,” said Superintendent Johnson-Trammell. “As Mark Pincus shows, giving is contagious. Like Jack Dorsey, he saw the need for all Oakland’s young people – now more significant than ever – to have technology at school and at home, to open them up to the world of information through the internet, and to become even more adept at using that technology. Here in the 21st century, countless careers are inextricably tied to computers and the web, so we need to have all of our students prepared to succeed in our world.”

“I am grateful to see our local tech entrepreneurs join the mission to close the digital divide in Oakland to ensure that every child in our city has access to the internet and a computer,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “Mark Pincus’ donation, galvanized by Jack Dorsey’s $10M through his #StartSmall initiative just days earlier, shows an immense amount of generosity that will help improve the lives of kids and families Oakland. We are building an unprecedented coalition of residents, educators, community organizations, philanthropists, and now tech CEOs who all share a common goal and will continue to work to make #OaklandUndivided.”

The Mayor, City of Oakland, OUSD and partners are grateful to everyone who helped us achieve this critical goal of raising $12.5M to complete phase 1 and provide 25,000 students with a computer and internet for the upcoming school year. In addition to Mark Pincus and Jack Dorsey, other significant investments above $100,000 came from Gilead Sciences, the Oakland Public Education Fund, Koshland Family Foundation, Oakland COVID-19 Relief Fund, Salesforce, The Barrios Trust, The Golden State Warriors in partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Amazon. A full list of major donors can be found here.

It’s important to note that while the initial goal of raising $12.5 million for phase 1 has been reached, the campaign to close the digital divide for good is far from over. This money is a powerful beginning, as it will outfit all OUSD students in the 2020-21 school year with computers and internet access. However, to sustain this effort from year to year, there is an ongoing annual cost of $4 million. There are also additional needs to develop sustainable citywide internet connectivity, support students with computers in the classroom, technology for teachers, and computers for our graduates entering colleges that will be operating mostly online for the foreseeable future. “We are calling for more supporters to join this campaign so we can rest assured that we have eliminated the digital divide in Oakland for good,” said Superintendent Johnson-Trammell.

If you would like to learn more or get involved, visit this website. To consider a donation or connect us to anyone who wants to join our movement to close the digital divide, contact Dsilver@oaklandca.gov, Curtiss.Sarikey@ousd.org, or Jonathan@oaklandedfund.org.

About the Oakland Unified School District

In California’s most diverse city, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is dedicated to creating a learning environment where “Every Student Thrives!” More than half of our students speak a non-English language at home. And each of our 83 schools is staffed with talented individuals uniting around a common set of values: Students First, Equity, Excellence, Integrity, Cultural Responsiveness and Joy. We are committed to preparing all students for college, career and community success.

To learn more about OUSD’s Full Service Community District focused on academic achievement while serving the whole child in safe schools, please visit OUSD.org and follow us @OUSDnews.

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