Westbrook Foundation To Provide Children and Families with Computers
Rockets Press Release
THE RUSSELL WESTBROOK WHY NOT? FOUNDATION PARTNERS WITH CITY OF HOUSTON AND COMP-U-DOPT TO HELP CLOSE DIGITAL DIVIDE FOR STUDENTS AMID COVID-19
HOUSTON, Texas (April 13, 2020) – In response to the challenges of the digital divide and closing of schools due to COVID-19 precautions, Houston Rockets star, Russell Westbrook and his nonprofit organization, the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation has collaborated with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Office of Education and Comp-U-Dopt to provide children and families with computers needed to access classwork and digital learning resources online.
On March 15, the Texas Education Agency, the governing agency responsible for overseeing primary and public education in Texas, made the decision to close Texas schools amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As the corona virus progressed, school closures were extended through May 4, 2020. The Texas Education Agency then moved to have school districts conduct school lessons via distance learning or digital platforms. However, many students still lack the resources at-home to access their classwork.
Since March 18th Comp-U-Dopt has distributed nearly 1,000 computers to Houston families through their Computer Drive-Thru which allows families to register for a computer lottery through their website then if selected, drive through the Comp-U-Dopt warehouse where a computer is placed in their car for them to keep, completely free of charge. 83% of computer recipients are living in households earning less than $35,000 annually and most reside in Mayor Turner’s Complete Communities neighborhoods.
“Russell Westbrook proves why he is a champion on and off the court. This donation will be a gamechanger for many students and their families coping with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “The generous contribution from the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation will help young people stay focused on their education at home and until they can return to their classroom.”
“The generous gift from the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation will allow us to significantly increase our inventory and ensure we can to continue to close the gap for Houston families most in need,” says Colin Dempsey, Executive Director | Houston & Galveston for Comp-U-Dopt. “1 in 3 economically disadvantaged students in the Houston area lack access to a computer at home. With the outbreak of COVID19, and the closure of schools, there is an immediate need to get more computers to students and families without access at home.”
The need for computers is significant. Since launching the drive-thru, in just 48 hours, more than 25,000 families registered for their computer lottery and more continue to sign up. In Houston, over 250,000 households don’t have access to a device at home, across the country that number jumps to almost 10 million based on census data. Gifts from partners including the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation are now more essential than ever.
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically shifted the education landscape in the United States and Houston. As school districts chart a course forward in the face of uncertainty, teachers are rapidly gearing up to teach virtual lessons and provide learning opportunities to students online, all in an effort to keep students from missing critical learning. All these learning opportunities have one thing in common, they all require a computer.
The supply chain delays due to the shut-down in China paired with the global demand for devices also at an all-time high has created a backlog even in devices available for purchase making solutions like Comp-U-Dopt’s one of the only real viable methods of addressing the gap for low-income populations.
Students without a computer are at risk of losing months of educational opportunity compared to their peers that can participate. While many families are worried about how they will pay rent, feed themselves, and stay safe, those without a computer also risk missing out on important information from schools about meals and enrichment opportunities as well as other opportunities to earn dollars. Comp-U-Dopt is responding to this need not only in Houston but also working to replicate their model in Chicago, DC, Dallas, New Orleans, and San Antonio.
This is a defining moment to consider the future of education and to ensure all students, regardless of their economic situation, have the tools they need to continue to learn.
Comp-U-Dopt is poised to broaden and deepen our impact, and with the support of funders including the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation, corporations, and collaboration with cities, and other community organizations, solving this issue is within reach.
Comp-U-Dopt is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2007 with a mission to provide technology access and education to underserved youth. Since 2007 Comp-U-Dopt has been providing technology access and education to underserved youth in the greater Houston and Galveston region. To date they have distributed over 16,000 devices to students in need and delivered over 100,000 hours of technology education. Each year they serve 3,000-plus young people from economically disadvantaged families providing computers and quality STEM and workforce focused afterschool programming. www.compudopt.org.
About The Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation
The mission of the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation is to inspire the lives of children, empower them to ask, “Why Not?” and teach them to never give up. The foundation works to help children that are facing hardships of any kind and when faced with that adversity fight to succeed and to never give up. Russell Westbrook and his brother were taught to ask, “Why Not?” every time they were told they could not do something. It is this encouragement and strength that Russell and his family want to spread to children across the country. Founded in 2012, the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation is dedicated to supporting community-based education and family service programs while encouraging youth to believe in themselves. www.whynotfoundation.org/.
About Mayor’s Office of Education (MOE)
The Office of Education was created in 2016 by Mayor Sylvester Turner. The Office of Education works to carry out Mayor Turner’s vision for each generation of children to be assured a better life and education. The Mayor’s Office of Education (MOE) strives to ensure this goal for all families in Houston by promoting access to equitable education opportunities. MOE focuses on three key strategies: collaboration, communication, and coordination among the various educational institutions and programs throughout the Greater Houston Area. To learn more, visit www.houstontx.gov/education.
About Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities (MOCC)
Complete Communities is a signature initiative of City of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. Its mission is to ensure that all Houstonians have equal access to quality services and amenities that improve their lives. By developing public-private partnerships that tap into the strengths of Houston’s residents, nonprofits, businesses, and philanthropic partners, together, we can build a stronger, more resilient city and make transformational change where it’s needed most. The Complete Communities initiative was launched by Mayor Turner in April of 2017 with five pilot communities (Acres Home Gulfton, Near Northside, Second Ward, and Third Ward) and the initiative expanded to 10 communities in June of 2019-Alief, Fort Bend Houston, Kashmere Gardens, Magnolia Park-Manchester and Sunnyside.
To learn more about the Complete Communities Initiative, visit the website www.houstontx.gov/completecommunities.