As part of his ongoing philanthropic effort to distribute $1.5 billion of his own money during the pandemic crisis, Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey announced Friday that he's giving $10 million to the Oakland Unified School District to provide laptops and internet access to schoolchildren who don't have either.
"Heard Mayor @LibbySchaaf and @OUSDNews’ call and funding immediately," Dorsey wrote, responding to a video that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tweeted on Thursday about kids in the school district who lack internet and/or computer access at home.
"We are in the Bay Area, where Apple was invented, where Google was invented," says student Jessica Ramos in the video. "Where is the equity?"
$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. Thank you! https://t.co/BBqFZHtS4I— jack (@jack) May 15, 2020
After being stuck in a home where her family couldn't afford internet access, Ramos took a survey of Oakland schoolkids and found that over 200 of her peers lacked computer or internet access at home. In reality, according to Schaaf, around 25,000 Oakland students lack consistent access to a computer or the internet.
"I know many seniors who were applying for scholarships and missed the deadline because of not having a computer at home or not being able to afford internet," Ramos says.
Schaaf on Thursday announced the launch of Oakland Undivided, a $12.5 million campaign to bridge the digital divide for these students, and with one donation, Dorsey has largely funded it the effort.
"I woke up to the tweet of the week," Schaaf tells KRON4 today. "We were really trying to raise two and a half million dollars," Schaaf says, explaining that the city has already leant out 16,000 Chromebooks to students and the district was looking for funds to get laptops and internet to the remaining students who need them for the summer. "This morning's tweet has definitely changed our timeline," she says. "And it's not just about devices. It's about internet connectivity, technical support... we have all of the pieces of this puzzle in place in Oakland... Digital access is critical in today's day and age."
Schaaf encourages anyone with a laptop to donate or technical skills to volunteer to go to techexchange.org, which is a key partner in the Oakland Undivided project.
This donation to Oakland schools follows a $15 million donation by Dorsey that was announced earlier this week to San Francisco's coronavirus relief fund.
Dorsey's total net worth was estimated to be around $4.6 billion before he announced in early April that he would take $1 billion of his equity in Square and create a pool of money to help people and places affected by the pandemic. The amount has since risen to $1.5 billion, and this public spreadsheet shows where the $40 million he's donated to date has gone.
Photo: Jack Dorsey/Twitter