Elon Musk provides $423K to buy laptops for all Flint middle schoolers | mlive.com

FLINT, MI – A sizable donation by tech billionaire Elon Musk will provide Flint Community Schools with the funds to purchase laptops for all seventh and eighth-grade students in the district.

The $423,600 donation by the Elon Musk Foundation announced at Wednesday night’s school board meeting allows the district to buy Chromebooks for the middle school students as they move into the former Flint Northern High School as part of a secondary school restructuring plan.

“We will begin this winter with our current seventh graders moving into eighth grade and how they use that technology and our current sixth graders and how they use that technology (moving into seventh grade,” said Derrick Lopez, superintendent of Flint schools. “They will be able to take them home and use them as an instructional tool so that is power in and of itself.”

The restructuring plan approved by the board includes moving seventh and eighth-grade students into the Northern building in the 2019-2020 school year, followed by ninth-grade students in 2020. The C.S. Mott Foundation has also donated $300,000 to revise and modify middle school curriculum instructional practices including The Algebra Project, Young People’s Project, and Project Lead the Way.

“The Mott Foundation and the Musk Foundation have just been so amazing to the district,” commented Lopez. “They’ve seeded the money for a redesign of secondary education in the system which will not only retain students because people don’t like the 7-12 (configuration), but it will reclaim students for students who are coming back from charter schools and other districts.

“The fact that Mott gave us the money to redesign the curriculum and professional development around Project Lead the Way and The Algebra Project and Musk gave us the money for the tool is just one of those things that speaks for the love and care for the kids of Flint,” he added.

Established in 2002 by Elon Musk with brother Kimbal, the Musk Foundation’s website states grants are made in support of the following causes:

– Renewable energy research and advocacy

– Human space exploration research and advocacy

– Pediatric research

-Science and engineering education

The new funding marks the second donation of more than $400,000 by the foundation toward the school district.

A $480,350 donation by the Musk Foundation announced in October is now being used to pay for water filtration systems in all 12 Flint school buildings and the administration building.

School board members approved the purchase Wednesday night of water cooler/bottle filler systems from Industry, Calif.-based Murdock Manufacturing for $221,000. The systems include water fountains and water coolers for students.

A request for proposal for water system installation is set to come in early 2019, with installation expected to be completed by February.