SEATTLE — Amazon announced Monday it will donate 8,200 laptops to Seattle Public Schools (SPS) families to help students continue to learn at home while schools are closed during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Most of the laptops will be shipped directly to elementary school families who need computers for remote learning. Amazon said it is working closely with SPS to ship the laptops to students, who will be able to keep them permanently. With the donation, SPS said it will prioritize and distribute district laptops to high school and middle school students.
The donation, which is valued at over $2 million, kicks off a new “Education Equity Fund” created by the Alliance for Education and SPS. The fund will “support students furthest from educational justice in accessing the technology, technical support and additional learning resources required to continue to learn during the COVID-19 crisis.”
“Amazon’s gift comes at a crucial time for our students,” said SPS Superintendent Denise Juneau. “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.”
Schools will not have in-person learning until at least April 27, although state Superintendent Chris Reykdal said in a video message Friday it would be "really tough" to get students back in class this year.
"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," said Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services. “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 also said it is supporting SPS students through the “Right Now Needs Fund.” The fund was created in October 2018 to help “principals, teachers, and parents collaborate to remove students’ most basic barriers to learning such as the need for food, clothing, and housing.”