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Amazon gives $2 million to low income Seattle schools

Amazon has awarded a $2 million grant to Seattle’s Alliance for Education to help the city’s low income students.

The grant creates the “Right Now Needs Fund” which helps Seattle students purchase school supplies, food, and clothing. Money from the grant will go toward the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.

“This fund will address the most basic and urgent needs of students in Seattle public schools,” said Alice Shobe with Amazon. “This is really in line with much of our other support in Seattle and around the country, focusing on both education and those urgent needs.”

“There are children who come hungry, or lacking adequate clothing or the right school supplies, so part of what is incredible about this fund is the flexibility the alliance will be able to provide to each of the Seattle public schools,” she said.  “… So people who are often digging into their own pockets to pay for emergency needs of students, this fund will help address those needs and leverage their expertise and understanding of what a student really needs right now.”

Schools with higher poverty levels will receive more funding

Amazon points out that Seattle has 31 Title 1 schools and the district has 18,300 students on free or reduced lunches. The grant comes with stipulations. The money cannot go to replace current funding items; it must be used for students directly. Schools with higher poverty levels will receive more funding.

“Ultimately, it’s about education for our students in Seattle public schools,” Shobe said. “But we know sometimes that there are some very basic barriers that prevent them from diving into their learning. So our hope is that this enables more students across the city to dive into their education and reach for their dreams.”

The Alliance for Education is a Seattle organization that raises money to support the city’s public schools.

“This is a tremendously significant investment for us,” said Lisa Chick, CEO of the Alliance for Education. “It’s the largest single corporate contribution we’ve ever received and the largest contribution in general since 2009. But more exciting than the size of the gift is the impact we think it will have on the students in Seattle Public Schools.”

“About a third of the kids in Seattle Public Schools are impacted by poverty,” she said. “Those kids are concentrated in about 34 of our schools in Seattle, but they are spread across all of the 103 schools in Seattle …. we are really going to be working with school communities to understand what kids in those communities need …. what we do know is that kids often come to school hungry, or cold, or without the right supplies they need to learn. Our goal with this fund is to remove those barriers so they can get into class and focus on their education.”

The education donation comes on the heels of other news surrounding Amazon and its charitable spending or its finances. The company recently raised its minimum wage across the United States to $15 an hour. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has also started a fund from his personal finances to support early childhood education and fight homelessness.

RELATED: Seattle CM Sawant responds to Bezos’ charitable fund

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