Washington was the first state in the United States with a confirmed COVID-19 case. As such, efforts to control the virus and its ripple effects have been widespread and swift. The pandemic has taken a vast toll on families and communities throughout the state, and individuals and organizations have teamed up to provide relief however they can, including the creation of the All In WA campaign in May.
All In WA is a coordinated statewide relief effort spearheaded by a coalition of various companies, community leaders, foundations, nonprofits and more aimed at distributing resources to those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the next several weeks, we will tell how and why the Seahawks are getting involved with the All In WA campaign — and how fans can help as well — beginning with the Digital Equity Initiative.
As the end of summer approaches, students across the state are gearing up to go back to school under challenging circumstances. Many families lack access to reliable technology and equipment needed to support a virtual return to classes. To help, the Seahawks and a group of other agencies, philanthropic organizations, and representatives of Indigenous communities — alongside Governor Inslee — launched the Digital Equity Initiative under the All In WA campaign. The fund will help close the digital divide by providing students with the high-speed internet connection and devices necessary for remote learning.
The Seattle Seahawks Charitable Foundation is the founding donor of the Digital Equity Initiative, giving an initial donation of $120K to the fund.
The initiative is also taking a racial equity approach, ensuring that the students who are most adversely affected by existing disparities in conjunction with the pandemic are served first.
"As we work to keep our communities safe and healthy during this crisis, we must ensure all children have what they need to access distance learning," Governor Jay Inslee said. "Every child deserves the opportunity to succeed, and the Digital Equity Initiative is helping to provide thousands of students in Washington with the support necessary to keep up with school while our state recovers from this pandemic."
As part of the effort, the Seahawks are teaming up with Microsoft to mitigate technology needs at Boys and Girls Club of King County, which is supporting virtual learning programs through its all-day programming at Clubs across the County. 300 Surface devices will be donated by Microsoft, with the Seattle Seahawks Charitable Foundation pairing those devices with internet hotspots.
"As many students in our community head back to school virtually, equitable access to technology is a significant issue for many families," said Jeff Richards, Seahawks Vice President of Marketing and Community Engagement. "The Seahawks are proud to partner with All In WA to help provide access to the basic technology that will keep students engaged and learning. We are at our best when we come together to tackle fundamental challenges like this in our community. We encourage our fans, partners and everyone who calls this place home to join us in supporting the Digital Equity Initiative."
Funding and equipment generated through the Digital Equity Initiative will be distributed by InvestEd, a statewide nonprofit that partners with over 600 secondary schools across the state to provide need-based funding. Seventy-five percent of the proceeds from Seahawks license plate fees go to InvestEd.
InvestEd will work with the WA Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to identify and address needs. OSPI is making $9 million available via federal CARES Act funds to provide broadband internet access to low-income students across the state.
All In WA launched with a goal of $65 million and had $20 million in initial donations, with Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos matching donations under $1 million up to a total of $25 million. It has since nearly reached its goal and is now aiming for a total of $75 million raised.
"Individuals, families, and communities across Washington state are struggling as a result of COVID-19," Bezos said at the time of launch. "I commend Governor Inslee and the First Lady for inspiring thinking big, so that All In WA can help those who so desperately need it."
Fans are encouraged to donate to the Digital Equity Fund as well as other All In WA causes and community funds. Visit allinwa.org/seahawks or text GOHAWKS to 243725 to donate.