All in WA launches Digital Equity Initiative to support remote learning
Hosted by All In Washington, a coordinated, statewide relief effort to support workers and families who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, the newly launched Digital Equity Initiative will provide critical resources to close the digital divide and support remote learning for students statewide as schools resume this fall.
The Seahawks, Microsoft, and Puget Sound Energy, alongside a group of philanthropic organizations, state agencies, and representatives of Indigenous communities responded to the needs of families struggling with digital access.
In Washington, 22% of students lack adequate access to high-speed internet connection, and 15% lack devices necessary for remote learning, according to a release from All In WA.
“As we work to keep our communities safe and healthy during this crisis, we must ensure all children have what they need to access distance learning,” Gov. Inslee said. “The Digital Equity Initiative is helping to provide thousands of students in Washington with the support necessary to keep up with school while our state recovers from this pandemic. Every child deserves the opportunity to suceed, and the public, private, and nonprofit sectors have come together to make this possible.”
Microsoft is designating $1.25 million of its All in Washington pledge to kickstart the fund. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has pledged to match individual donations up to $1 million per unique donor.
“Digital access is more critical than ever for learning and connecting with teachers and peers,” said Jane Broom, senior director of Microsoft Philanthropies. “One tablet, one laptop, and reliable internet access make all the different for a student trying to keep up with remote learning. We are proud to support this effort to close the digital divide and help see to it that no child falls behind as a result of this crisis.”
Puget Sound Energy has contributed $200,000 to purchase hardware and provide support, and the Seattle Seahawks Charitable Foundation is contributing $120,000 to the initiative. The Seattle Kraken and others will be supporting the effort through social media.
Microsoft and the Seahawks have also teamed up to support technology needs at the Boys & Girls Club of King County. Microsoft donated 300 Surface devices, and the Seahawks is pairing that with a donation for internet hotspots.
Funding from the Digital Equity Initiative will be distributed through InvestED, a statewide nonprofit that partners with schools to provide need-based funding and improve student outcomes. InvestED will work closely with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to identify and address needs. OSPI is making nearly $9 million available for broadband access to families with low income across the state using federal CARES Act funds. Funds from the initiative will also supplement OSPI efforts.
All in Washington launched in May with a goal of raising $65 million to address food shortages, health disparities, housing and small business assistance, and now digital access with the launch of this initiative. Learn more and contribute online here.