In response to the challenges of the digital divide and school closures caused by the COVID-19 public health crisis, Houston Rockets star, Russell Westbrook, and his nonprofit organization, the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation announced a partnership with the City of Houston and Comp-U-Dopt.
On Monday, April 13, Westbrook virtually joined a press conference hosted by Mayor Turner and Colin Dempsey, Comp-U-Dopt executive director, to announce that his foundation will provide 650 computers to families with children who need access to online resources.
On March 15, the Texas Education Agency closed schools around the state in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and later announced that schools would remain closed through May 4, 2020. School districts transitioned to providing educational lessons via distance learning or digital platforms. However, many students lack the resources at-home to access the learning materials.
Since March 18, Comp-U-Dopt has distributed nearly 1,000 computers to Houston families through the Computer Drive-Thru. The program allows families to register for a computer lottery through a website. If selected, the families drive through the Comp-U-Dopt warehouse to receive a free computer. According to recent studies, 83 percent of computer recipients live in households earning less than $35,000 annually, and most reside in Mayor Turner's Complete Communities neighborhoods.
The Mayor's Office of Education is working closely with the Why Not? Foundation and Comp-U-Dopt to ensure that school children have the tools they need to succeed.
"Russell Westbrook proves why he is a champion on and off the court. This donation will be a game-changer 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."
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.
Comp-U-Dopt is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was 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 after-school 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 the 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 the 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 with the inclusion of Alief-Westwood, 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.