Facebook will donate $582,000 to the Alpine School District to help support technology, the district announced May 4.
“It is an amazing donation,” said David Stephenson, a spokesman for ASD. “We are just so excited and happy to be able to work with this partner. I know that we have some great business partners in Alpine School District, and Facebook definitely stepped up here.”
The immediate, one-time donation will provide educational support in the wake of COVID-19 and the soft closure of schools statewide. Funds will be used to purchase laptops, tablets, and video equipment primarily.
“We are honored to partner with Alpine School District to support students and families in Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs during the COVID-19 pandemic,” William Marks, a community development regional manager for Facebook, said in a press release. “We understand that the situation presents new challenges for both students and educators; however, we hope that this partnership will help students continue their education and learning remotely.”
While the donation will be centered on the Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs area, Stephenson said it will be used to support technology throughout the district.
“As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and new norms for directing learning from homes are required, we are deeply grateful for this timely and specific funding source to assist us in this endeavor,” Superintendent Sam Jarman said in a press release. “Thank you, Facebook, for being a partner in supporting education in the Alpine School District.”
Facebook also donated $50,000 last year to help fund the rebuild of the space center at Central Elementary School in Pleasant Grove. Stephenson said the company has been a good business partner with ASD since Facebook announced in 2018 that it would build a data center in Eagle Mountain. The announcement came after ASD made a deal with Facebook to give the company more than $100 million in tax breaks.
Stephenson said Facebook has supported Cedar Valley High School in Eagle Mountain and with Westlake High School in Saratoga Sprints. The company has had a history of partnership with the schools and approached principals with the idea to help support technology.
“The buildings might have closed down, but education has not stopped, and it’s through the online learning platform that students are participating in the educational process, and the things that Facebook will be donating to these schools are things that are going to improve and enhance the online opportunity we have,” Stephenson said.
The majority of the funds will be spent on purchasing laptop computers. The district has checked out more than 16,000 Chromebooks to students after COVID-19 led to online learning. Stephenson said the money will help the district be better prepared in the future.
“The objective of this grant from Facebook is to put devices in the hands of students,” Stephenson said.
The district hopes that students will be able to return to physical schools in the fall, although that may look different than it traditionally has. Stephenson said the district is investigating what those scenarios might look like, which could be a mix of at-home learning and students attending class in the physical schools in smaller groups.
He said the donation has come at a time when it’s greatly needed.
“There are many, many situations that we have to look at as we look to the future, and we want to be as prepared as possible,” Stephenson said.