The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the Carolina Panthers Player Impact Committee and Lenovo have teamed up to provide North Carolina students critical access to technology in support of remote learning needs. The Carolina Panthers Player Impact Committee and its technology partner, Lenovo, are providing 600 Chromebooks to the Columbus County and Richmond County school systems at the end of June.
State Superintendent Mark Johnson has already indicated that due to COVID-19, when N.C. public schools reopen for the 2020-21 school year, remote learning will likely continue in some capacity.
“During the last few months, we have seen first-hand the importance of remote learning, but also the challenges and struggles that come with it,” said Johnson. “This donation by the Carolina Panthers Player Impact Committee and Lenovo will go a long way in helping these two districts help their students. We are very grateful for the support from our partners.”
The Carolina Panthers Player Impact Committee, led by current Panthers Chris Manhertz, Andre Smith and Stephen Weatherly, as well as Panthers legend Mike Rucker, is a group of players that provides support and assistance to organizations and causes across the Carolinas. Formed in 2018, the committee quickly engaged with NCDPI after the onset of the pandemic to identify school districts where additional technology resources are needed for remote learning.
“Due to COVID-19, the majority of schools have turned to virtual learning. I learned from Tara Galloway at the North Carolina Department of Instruction that many families do not have computers in their homes and can’t afford them,” said Carolina Panthers Linebacker Andre Smith, a member of the Carolina Panthers Player Impact Committee. “Once this was brought to my attention, it was my responsibility to bring this to the Player Impact Committee and initiate this laptop program. I hope everyone gets involved because we can all do something to help others during these challenging times.”
With that need identified, the committee contacted North Carolina-based technology company Lenovo to request support in securing devices for the school districts.
“The sudden transition to distance learning put a spotlight on the digital divide that still exists and is a very real obstacle for too many K-12 students and public school systems,” said Matthew Zielinski, president, Lenovo North America. “Lenovo is committed to providing smarter technology for all and is proud to partner with the Carolina Panthers Player Impact Committee to support Richmond and Columbus County students with technology resources that will help further their education.”
“This support could not have come at a better time,” said Deanne Meadows, superintendent of Columbus County Schools. “Because so much uncertainty exists about the coming months, we are working toward our goal of having a device for every child so they can continue to learn at school and at home. The Player Impact Committee’s generosity and commitment to rural communities demonstrates how important the organization is to North and South Carolina.”
“The Carolina Panthers Player Impact Committee continues to create positive change in underserved communities in North and South Carolina,” said Jeff Maples, superintendent of Richmond County Schools. “As big Panther fans, these 300 Chromebooks will ensure that our students have access to digital devices during the pandemic and beyond — and that our Raiders will #KeepPounding.”
The Chromebooks are scheduled to be delivered to the school systems later this month.
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