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Roberts Family Gives $5M to Philadelphia Schools Fund

The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia said it has received a $5 million donation from Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, his wife Aileen and family, to give laptops to city students to allow them to learn from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a 2019 School District survey, only about half of third-through-12th-grade students have the equipment they need to begin participating in online lessons. The gift from the Roberts’ will support the purchase of 50,000 Chromebooks, ensuring that all students who attend the 220 District-led public schools across Philadelphia have the tools they need to learn at home.

“We’re living in an unprecedented time and COVID-19 is presenting our society with new challenges every day,” said Aileen and Brian Roberts in a press release. “When we heard that many Philadelphia students weren’t going to be able to learn from home without laptops, we quickly decided we wanted to help and provide these teachers, parents and students with the technology they need to begin learning online within just a few weeks. In good times or bad, now all of our Philadelphia students will have access to technology to help them succeed.”

The 50,000 new laptops will be distributed along with the estimated 40,000 laptops already in school buildings to students and families. Once the equipment is received at the School District headquarters, it will be dispensed between April 13 and 17. During the interim two weeks, the laptops will be prepared for the students and the Philadelphia School District teachers will be trained to support distance learning.

"The generous gift from Aileen and Brian Roberts and their family will help to transform the learning experience for thousands of Philadelphia's public school students who will now be able to access online educational resources from home," said Superintendent William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D in a press release. "Our public schools belong to all of us and this is a great example of what's possible when we work together to improve educational supports for all of our young people. I am grateful for their generosity."

Students and their families who don’t already have internet access can get it through any Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Philadelphia. Comcast is currently offering low-income families who don’t already have internet service two free months through Internet Essentials.

"The Fund is delighted to be the recipient of this most generous gift,” said School District of Philadelphia CEO Donna Frisby Greenwood in the press release. “We will do our part to implement this much needed and appreciated gift."

The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia identifies, coordinates and connects philanthropic resources to level the playing field in local public schools. The Fund's partnership with the School District of Philadelphia seeks to promote equity, safety, and improved performance.