Thursday, December 20, 2018

Elon Musk just bought laptops for all Flint middle schoolers

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2018 at 10:16 AM

  • Kathy Hutchins /

Billionaire Elon Musk has been feeling philanthropic lately.

On Wednesday, Flint Community Schools announced the Elon Musk Foundation donated $423,600 to be used to buy laptops for all of its middle school students — the second time the foundation has made a large donation to the school district this year.

The donation will be used to purchase Chromebooks for the district's seventh and eighth graders. It's part of a restructuring plan that includes moving seventh and eighth graders into the former Flint Northern High School building in the 2019 school year, with ninth graders following in 2020.

"They will be able to take [the laptops] home and use them as an instructional tool so that is power in and of itself," Flint schools superintendent Derrick Lopez said at a Wednesday school board meeting, MLive reports.

The restructuring also includes revising the middle school curriculum, thanks to a $300,000 donation from the C.S. Mott Foundation.

In October, the Musk Foundation donated $480,350 to Flint Community Schools after Twitter users goaded him into doing something to help the city in July. The money will be used to install ultraviolet water filtration systems in all 12 of Flint Community Schools by the end of next month.

The donations can be viewed as part of a wider trend of the private sector stepping in to solve government problems, particularly in places like Detroit and Flint. But in a Washington Post story published last month, professors from MSU and Grand Valley State University warned about relying on private donors.

"Private donations can fill gaps, but they cannot replace more reliable streams of funding for essential public services such as clean drinking water, fire and police protection, and public education," they wrote. "Donors might gain stature and gratitude for these contributions, but cities receive only a short-term reprieve from long-term challenges."

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