Since 2007, the Education Foundation has provided computers to more than 5400 students and families in need
(Left to right) Jackie Salomon (age 4), sisters Helen and Nicolle, and mom Bany Salomon celebrate receiving their very first home computer. The Salomons received the 5400th computer distributed by the Education Foundation of Sarasota through its Texcellence program.
Sarasota, Florida – May 14, 2012 – Helen Salomon was already excited about receiving her family’s first computer. She had learned how to use a computer at school and was looking forward to showing her sisters and mom. But the Gulf Gate Elementary School first grader had no idea that her family would land in the spotlight last week at Riverview High, when the Education Foundation of Sarasota County announced that the Salomons would receive the 5400th computer distributed by its Texcellence program.
One of over 80 students of all ages at the evening training session, Helen and her family were there to learn how to attach a keyboard to a CPU, practice using educational and home office software, and take home their very own computer.
After welcoming the crowd of over 200, Texcellence coordinator Alina Klein told them that the program had just reached the 5400 mark, surging past the goal of 900 donated to families this school year. Klein introduced the Salomons as Family Number 5400, inviting all three sisters and their mother to pose for pictures with program organizers.
Bany Salomon said, “My daughters were so excited when they found out they were getting a computer. They have lots of homework at school that they need to do on the computer, and we always go to the library. Now, I can work on the computer with my daughters at home.”
At the end of the evening, more than 5420 families had received refurbished home computers, training, and technical support since Texcellence was launched in the spring of 2007.
Some students interpreted for parents and demonstrated their computer skills while Texcellence trainers led two-hour workshops in English and Spanish. All left with clean computers and monitors, flash drives, and a phone number for ongoing technical assistance. They also received information about low-cost broadband Internet service that is available to all families, like those involved in Texcellence, whose students are eligible for the free and reduced-price lunch program.
This collaboration between the Education Foundation and Sarasota County Schools is made possible by support from The William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, the Dart Foundation, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Jon F. Swift, Inc., BJs Charitable Foundation, and dozens of individual donors. Just $250 allows Texcellence to refurbish one computer, then offer training and ongoing support to a student and family in need. Training and distributions sessions are held at public schools and other sites around Sarasota County throughout the year.
The program was inspired by local teacher Ron Zimmerman, who refurbished gently used computers in his garage for students in need. Today, any family with children in Sarasota County’s public schools who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals can qualify for one of the recycled computers.
Klein is already gearing up for 2012-2013. “These parents, grandparents, and guardians are often working several jobs just to provide the basics. They just can’t afford to provide a working computer at home, but they know how important this technology is for their children’s future. They go to great lengths to participate in Texcellence because they are so motivated to help their students succeed in school and in life. We help them do just that.”
For information about participating in the program, parents or other adult family members whose students are eligible free or reduced-price lunches may contact their schools to sign up for a future distribution. For additional information about Texcellence, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 941-927-9000 ext. 31334.
Dedicated to quality education for all children, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County is an independent, not-for-profit organization that works in partnership with the community and Sarasota County public schools. With the support of individuals, families, companies and foundations, the Education Foundation awards a million dollars each year to initiatives including Texcellence, Literacy for Life, Teacher of the Year, the Regional Science Engineering and Technology Fair, Academic Olympics, classroom grants, fine arts programs, scholarships and awards recognizing outstanding students, teachers and schools. For more information visit EdFoundation.net or call 941-927-0965.
Tuttle Elementary students Juan Jones and Curtis Thomas show off their refurbished laptop computer and brand new accessories from the Education Foundation’s Texcellence program.