On Wednesday, Mayor Van R. Johnson, II, joined Paula Wallace, president and founder of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and Pastor John Ruehl, an at-large member of Savannah Presbytery, to announce SCAD’s donation of 160 computers for Savannah and Chatham County students.
The computers will be available for use in houses of faith, nonprofits and community organizations to expand student access to technology during COVID-19 virtual learning and in the future.
"During these extraordinary times, we have seen the best of Savannah quickly coming to the aid of those who need it," said Mayor Van Johnson. "We have been blessed by a strong faith-community partnership called Savannah Faith, and this partnership, combined with this gracious gift from SCAD, will create greater access to learning opportunities for our young people during this pandemic. We are Savannah strong because of what Savannah does."
Religious leaders involved in the mayor’s faith-based community taskforce, called Savannah Faith, saw a need to create space in their houses of worship for students participating in virtual learning. They created the Religious Institutions Supporting Education (RISE) Coalition.
"We have created proposals for virtual learning support centers, which can serve as models for any organization wishing to offer students space to learn online," said Pastor Ruehl, chair of RISE. "Together, we believe that if we lean on our faith and work as a community, we can rise to meet the challenges of our time."
SCAD anticipated a need to make distance learning more accessible for children in our community, so the university approached the City of Savannah with the idea to donate 80 Mac and 80 HP desktop computers. Mayor Johnson coordinated the collaboration with Pastor Ruehl and RISE, and the 160 computers will soon be available for use in at least eight locations.
"As a former elementary school teacher, I’m profoundly proud to partner with RISE and Mayor Van Johnson to ensure Savannah’s children have the tools and tech they need to learn, laugh, and grow during this unprecedented moment," said SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace. "The challenges before us may be addressed through compassionate community action, the very ethos of SCAD, reflected in the art supplies we distribute through the SCAD Buzz Bus, our decade-long engagement with the Esther F. Garrison School for the Arts, and the university’s enduring commitment to education, exploration, and empowerment."
So far, RISE has coordinated with the following churches and organizations for computer installation: St. Paul’s CME, Urban Hope, Jesus First the Community Church, Connor’s Temple, Fresh Fire From Heaven, Mosaic Church, Butler Memorial Presbyterian Church, and Kingdom Life Christian Fellowship.