Amazon, Bellevue LifeSpring and The Alliance for Education have announced Amazon is making a more than $2.5 million donation to support the immediate needs of thousands of students from underserved communities within the Puget Sound region amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With this donation, Amazon is expanding its innovative Right Now Needs Fund, designed to meet the basic needs of schoolchildren and their families and eliminate barriers to learning, such as challenges with food, shelter, clothing, school supplies, and more. Amazon will donate more than $1.4 million to Bellevue LifeSpring to launch a new Right Now Needs Fund in Bellevue to support students in need at all 29 Bellevue School District schools through 2022. The Right Now Needs Fund in Bellevue can be distributed to students immediately.
Amazon’s $1.3 million donation to The Alliance for Education will expand the existing Right Now Needs Fund in Seattle across 104 schools. The Fund was established by Amazon in late 2018 with an initial $2 million investment and has already provided Seattle Public Schools students with over 17,000 instances of support since inception for basic needs including everything from new eyeglasses to an asthma inhaler. To date, every Seattle Public School has used the Right Now Needs Fund in Seattle to help their students. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, the Right Now Needs Fund in Seattle has quickly distributed more than $500,000 to students, a 27% increase from the same time last year, with the vast majority of those donations going towards food insecurity and housing assistance.
“The start of this school year is difficult for many families in need across the Puget Sound, and we want to provide more students from underserved communities with what they need to be successful while learning from home, whether that’s new technology, healthy meals, or a lifeline to call in a pinch,” said David Zapolsky, Amazon General Counsel and Senior Vice President and Alliance for Education board member. “At Amazon, we value speed, flexibility, and scale when we build and operate. Our Right Now Needs Funds help schools exercise these same values to support students in the community, and we’re excited to extend this support to Bellevue with our support of Bellevue LifeSpring.”
Family Engagement Specialists within each of the districts and schools work with families on identifying needs and put in requests for financial assistance through their respective nonprofit partner. In addition, any school community member can put in a request if they notice a specific student need.
Amazon recently donated $1 million to the City of Bellevue’s Health and Human Services Fund to support local families in need disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Amazon also recently donated more than 7,000 headsets and hundreds of additional technical devices – including MiFi hotspots – to support students learning from home across the Puget Sound region. At the beginning of the pandemic, Amazon, Bellevue LifeSpring and the Bellevue School District created and implemented pilot programs to provide immediate food and hygiene products to families living in poverty in Bellevue. Amazon also donated more than $200,000 in emergency cash funds and product vouchers to support students in Bellevue and Seattle and donated nearly 9,000 laptops to Seattle Public School students.
“Our partnership with Amazon will provide every child living in poverty in Bellevue with basic needs and reduce barriers to accessing critically needed support,” said Jennifer Fischer Executive Director, Bellevue LifeSpring. “Together, with our community, we can ensure efficient services to improve educational outcomes for all students. Amazon’s investment reflects a true partnership where we innovate together to achieve our goals of preventing hunger and homelessness for children in our Bellevue community. We will also work together to close the achievement gap for low-income students, so they graduate at the same rate as their peers.”
“Thank you Amazon for supporting our students in need with this unique investment – we are excited to be your neighbors,” said Dr. Ivan Duran, Superintendent, Bellevue School District. “I know that the start of this school year has been tough for so many families, and I am confident that this new Right Now Needs Fund in Bellevue will quickly and effectively provide targeted relief for our hard working students.”
“At a time when COVID-19 is making life so much more difficult for thousands of Seattle children and families, the Right Now Needs Fund is designed to directly address the most basic of needs of Seattle Public School students, to ensure our students can focus on learning,” said Petaki Cobell, Director of the Right Now Needs Fund in Seattle at the Alliance for Education. “The Alliance for Education’s vision of a deeply invested community that supports student learning and an equitable education is realized through the help of partners like Amazon. Through this contribution, we can continue to address our students’ basic needs, like clothing, adequate food, shelter, and necessary school supplies, and ensure they can focus on learning even in these challenging times.”
“I’m glad that Amazon is expanding its Right Now Needs Fund to benefit some of our most vulnerable Seattle public school students,” said Jenny A. Durkan, Mayor of Seattle. “I appreciate the flexibility of this fund to ensure that students’ needs – both big and small – can be met during this unprecedented time. I am proud of how our Seattle students and families have adapted to the challenges of the past few months, and know that with this extra support, they’ll continue to do their best amidst immense challenges.”
“For many of our students and families this pandemic has just added even more challenge and difficulty to so many tasks that many of us take for granted,” said Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau. “The Right Now Needs Fund is such a crucial and wonderful help to so many. We are deeply grateful for Amazon’s leadership and partnership.”
In response to COVID-19, Amazon has also donated more than 13,000 laptops to students in need, distributed more than $5 million worth of Amazon devices to help healthcare workers and nonprofits, delivered more than 9 million meals across 25 U.S. cities, launched free, virtual computer science resources and expanded its Amazon Future Engineer program to more than 550,000 students, donated more than $20 million to help accelerate COVID-19 research, donated $10 million in critically needed PPE supplies, and more. To learn more about what Amazon is doing in response to COVID-19 for communities, employees, partners, and customers, check out the Amazon Blog: Day One.