Upgrading technology in schools has become a top priority for Councilman Donovan Richards, who says there is a technology gap for children of color. To help close this gap he has allocated over $500,000 to four schools in southeast Queens.
Richards has named the funding the Nelson Mandela Technology Grant in tribute to the late South African leader for all that he accomplished to break down racial barriers through his teachings and his opposition to the apartheid government in his homeland.
“There is a technology gap when it comes to people of color,” said Richards. “I want to try to close that gap in my district so we don’t have this virtual apartheid that is going on.”
Richards presented the check to students from all four schools, which were P.S. 195, P.S. 270, P.S.138 and P.S. 156, at P.S. 270 on March 3. The grant came as part of his discretionary funding that he uses for public schools in his district. All of these schools are located in southeast Queens and the money will be used to upgrade the technology in each by adding some computers, iPads and SMART Boards where necessary.
“Nelson Mandela famously said education is the most powerful weapon which you can use for change,” Richards said to the students in attendance. “I want to ensure that you guys have just as much access to technology as other communities and am committed to taking money out of my budget to better technology and ensure that you start moving in the right direction.”
As a thank you to Richards, children from each school stood in front of the crowd and said a few words about why learning technology is so important. They said that students are at a disadvantage if they do not have technology and that it makes their learning more fun when they can access the Internet as part of their lessons.
“Technology is a must if we are going to move onto middle school and high school,” said one student from P.S. 195, after saying that not every classroom in the school has a SMART Board. “Technology makes concepts fun and easy to grasp. Now we will be able to move onto our future.”