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Covid-19 Response

Students & Teachers of San Francisco and Oakland School Districts Talk Technology and the Digital Divide in the Age of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed every part of society, including education. Schools moved online overnight and students are relying on technology to connect with their school, teachers, and counselors.

To that end, Salesforce today announced $20 million in grants to support five public school districts — investing in the success of students, teachers and principals as their communities recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Salesforce is donating $9M to the San Francisco Unified School District, $9M to the Oakland Unified School District, $500K to the New York City Fund for Public Schools, $500K to Chicago Public Schools, $500K to Indianapolis Public Schools as well as $500K to develop partnerships to promote racial justice and interracial understanding, supporting our five district partners. The latest grants bring Salesforce’s total investment in education to $118 million, including $85.4 million to San Francisco and Oakland public schools.

We sat down with the principals, teachers and students to hear firsthand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their education experiences as well as their communities. One thing is clear: COVID-19 has exacerbated the disparity between demographics that have access to technology and to those who do not. Ultimately, these communities have rallied in the face of adversity to ensure that students and faculty have what they need to succeed.

Here’s what they had to say:

On the power of technology:

  • “Technology may be the future of this whole education system, if every student had the resource to it.” – Jessica Ramos, Student
  • “We are not distance learning, we are emergency distance educational band-aiding. If not for the technology, so many children would be set adrift. It would be children’s slipping through the cracks, all of that. That makes my heart sink even deeper.” -Phoebe Diamond, Teacher
  • “The real kicker is through Salesforce, we were able to acquire a tech coach… So the circumstances have laid themselves out despite the sadness for us to have an amazing comeback. So we have this one-on-one technology with our students. We have a tech coach that’s going to be on site, working with our teachers to continue what we’ve done during this time and make it greater, better, bigger, more engaging for our kids in the classrooms.” – Charleston Brown, Principal

On reimagining education:

  • “Because this is more than just a pandemic. This is a social and economic thing, its impacting so many different people into so many different ways. And education is such a big tool that it’s not just about what you’re learning academically, it’s about what your teachers teach you.” – Betzy Herrera, Student

“We have gotten through the worst of it together, students and teachers alike. We are going to reimagine and rebuild what education can be and ensure that all of you can be successful in it.” – Ji-Yun Kim, Teacher

To learn more about Salesforce’s commitment to education, check out this press release.


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