NEW ORLEANS — With online learning a way of life now for local students, the charitable arm of the Rex Organization, the Pro Bono Publico Foundation has established a special fund to help provide laptop computers, smart tablets and home internet connectivity for public school children.
The COVID-19 Investment Fund will feature an initial grant of $50,000, foundation officials said. The money will go to the New Orleans Technology Access Fund to specifically support school-based distance learning objectives as school children remain home during the current coronavirus pandemic.
The money will support efforts already underway by NOLA Public Schools to purchase thousands of laptops for local students.
The school system partnered with New Schools for New Orleans to create the Technology Access Fund.
“We understand clearly how the current health crisis and closed schools mandate have left public education officials searching for ways to support the ‘new world’ of distance learning for all students,” commented Pro Bono Publico Foundation chairman Storey Charbonnet, who also reigned as this year's Rex, King of Carnival.
“A major focus has been to add home-based technology capacity, an obvious challenge for many students who lack computer access and connectivity in their homes to begin with,” he said in a statement.
“It is imperative that all of our children have the technology they need to continue their high-quality learning," said NOLA Public Schools Supt. Dr. Henderson Lewis. "NOLA-PS truly appreciates the support of the Pro Bono Publico Foundation, as we could not do this work without our close partnerships and ties to the community of New Orleans.”
The Pro Bono Publico Foundation, which was formed by Rex members after Hurricane Katrina, has donated more than $8 million to local schools, charter organizations and school groups such as NSNO and Teach for America since 2007. That includes more than $1 million annually for the past five years.