It’s back to school for students across California, but this year most are learning from a distance. To help ensure all students have the tools they need to succeed during this challenging time, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is contributing $500,000 to purchase computers and internet hot spots for students in underserved communities. The contribution to the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation (CDE Foundation) supports the California Department of Education (CDE) Closing the Digital Divide Task Force.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated widespread and inequitable access to technology that places barriers to learning, counseling, and connections with caring adults when our most vulnerable students need us the most,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “Through my Closing the Digital Divide Task Force, formed to secure devices and reduced-cost internet service, I have asked 100 of California’s top companies to step up and help close this gap. I commend PG&E for answering that call and for its investment toward lifting up every child, an example I hope other corporate partners will follow.”
“On behalf of Humboldt County Office of Education and our 31 Districts, I want to express my deepest gratitude to PG&E and Superintendent Thurmond for recognizing the equity issues that exist for students in rural California communities. This support will help bridge some of the access issues related to devices and internet connectivity for students in Humboldt County and serve as a catalyst for improving student outcomes and address the digital divide that exists for many of our students and families. This partnership serves as a tremendous example of the power of what can be accomplished when agencies and organizations embrace collaboration, communication and advocacy for all students,” said Chris Hartley, Ed.D., Humboldt County Superintendent of Schools.
Hundreds of thousands of students across the state are without computing devices or internet connections, even as classes have started in some school districts, according to the state Department of Education. The COVID-19 public health crisis exacerbates the technology gap, leading to achievement gaps for many California students.
“More than two out of every three of our students are below the poverty line. This donation from PG&E will make it possible for our underprivileged students to connect to distance learning being taught by our teachers. Without this connection, learning would come to a stop for these students. On behalf of our students, thank you PG&E,” said Fred Van Vleck, Superintendent of Eureka City Schools.
PG&E is dedicated to supporting students and schools in rural and underserved communities. The CDE Foundation is directing PG&E’s grant to Humboldt County schools to serve low-income students in some of the most remote parts of California. The funds are being used to purchase computers and hot spots.
“PG&E is committed to access and equity in education and creating opportunity for young people in California. This contribution supports the immediate need for computing and connectivity to help remove barriers to learning and success for students in communities that we are privileged to serve,” said PG&E Vice President of Regulatory and External Affairs Robert Kenney.
California Bridging the Digital Divide Fund (CBDD) is a joint effort of the Governor’s Office, the State Board of Education, the CDE, and the CDE Foundation. Individual donations may be made at the CBDD Fund web page, and corporate and institutional donors may email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Southern Humboldt Unified School District appreciates the support of PG&E in partnership with the California Department of Education. Access to devices and internet is essential in distance learning and we are grateful for the very real assistance we are receiving. Our sincere thanks for this substantial support goes out to Superintendent Thurmond, Mary Nicely, Senator McGuire and Superintendent Hartley at the Humboldt County Office of Education and their hardworking staff members for taking the needs of our small rural school district seriously. It has been a challenge to access devices for our students; in addition Southern Humboldt families have many challenges with accessing internet service at home. Geographical barriers to building internet infrastructure have been a longstanding issue in providing connectivity to all of our students. We look forward to continued partnerships with our government entities to find creative solutions to our connectivity needs,” said Superintendent Stephanie Stephano Davis, Southern Humboldt Union School District.
Over the past decade, PG&E and The PG&E Foundation (together “PG&E”) have invested more than $60 million in youth education programs to provide scholarships to aspiring youth, prepare students for energy sector jobs of the future, and help teachers create innovative classroom projects focused on energy and the environment. To learn more about PG&E scholarship and grant programs, click here.