Elon Musk, the tech billionaire who aspires to revolutionize transportation on Earth and in space, has pledged to invest in education technology in the Flint, Mich., schools.
The Elon Musk Foundation announced a $423,600 donation for the district to purchase Google Chromebook laptops for all its 7th and 8th grade students. The gift comes just a few months after Musk’s organization made a separate donation meant to provide clean drinking water to the school system, which has been affected by an ongoing water-quality crisis in Flint.
The laptop effort is part of a broader secondary school restructuring plan in the Flint Community Schools that includes a $300,000 donation from the C.S. Mott Foundation, which will go towards revising the middle school curriculum for the 2019 to 2020 school year.
The Flint community has been battered by decades of job losses, financial crises, and declines in services in the wake of the deterioration of the area’s auto industry. The Flint community school system serves more than 4,500 K-12 students, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Flint was thrust into the national spotlight in 2014 when a change in the community’s source of water was found to have led to elevated levels of lead in the drinking supply. In January 2016, Governor Rick Snyder officially declared a state of emergency on the matter.
At the time, The Detroit News reported that the estimated cost of replacing Flint’s water infrastructure totaled $712.8 million for public lines and $54.6 million for private lines. Already, state and federal officials have provided $40 million for lead pipe replacement, and the state pays an average of $22,000 per day to provide bottled water to the city.
In October, the Musk Foundation gave $480,350 to the Flint Community Schools to pay for the purchase and installation of new ultraviolet water filtration systems. The fountains and filtration systems for all 12 school buildings and the district’s headquarters will be fully installed by the end of this month.
Thank you @elonmusk and @MuskFoundation for investing in the health/future well-being FCS Students! Your generous donation will help us replace ALL water fountains w/NEW WATER STATIONS & WATER FILTRATION at ALL SCHOOLS! Looking forward to our burgeoning partnership! More to come!
-- Flint Schools (@FlintSchools) October 4, 2018
Musk is a longtime entrepreneur who is the CEO of Tesla, a manufacturer of electric cars and solar panels, and SpaceX, an aerospace company. His net worth has been estimated at $23 billion by Bloomberg.
In a statement, Musk said, “I’m glad the Musk Foundation has been helpful to the children of Flint in providing clean water and computers. We intend to do more in the future.”
Donald Rob Whitman, an administrator with the Flint Community Schools, will oversee the new laptop initiative.
Photo caption: SpaceX billionaire founder and chief executive, and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, is interviewed by Liz Claman during “Countdown to the Closing Bell,” on the Fox Business Network, on Sept. 17, 2014. in New York. --Richard Drew/AP
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.