COVID-19 has affected every community across the world, and Tableau’s hometown of Seattle is no exception. As a company and as a part of the Puget Sound community since 2004, we know that there’s great need across our whole region. But we also know that the pandemic’s effects are disproportionately stressing those who are already vulnerable—especially low-income children from Black, Latinx, immigrant, and underrepresented minority backgrounds.
As schools across the region prepare for the year ahead, Tableau is doing its part to ensure that students are supported and set up for success—both during the uncertainty of this year, and well into the future. Through a $2 million package of grants we’re dedicating to organizations across the greater Seattle area, we’re directly supporting the wellbeing of minority students and their families through the pandemic while investing in their educational and future career success.
These grants cover a range of needs. Most immediately, we’re supporting organizations that are ensuring families who depend on schools for meals are still able to access them. They also bolster programs that elevate kids’ academic potential so that even as in-classroom education is stalled, students won’t fall behind.
A Growing Need for Digital Equity
To that end, one of the core challenges in the shift to remote learning that happened last spring and will continue into this year, though, is ensuring that every student and family are equipped with the technology and support they need to succeed in taking classes from home. Seattle is home to a strong and vibrant technology sector, and we were especially proud to contribute to its effort to step up and meet this need.
Early on in the pandemic, Seattle Public Schools wanted to ensure that every family that lacked a device would get one. Amazon stepped up to donate nearly 9,000 Google Chromebooks, but the hardware itself is just one step.
In that gap, our partners at sea.citi, a Seattle tech industry nonprofit dedicated to local impact, immediately recognized that families receiving the laptops would need accessible tech support to get them set up for success. “Understandably, SPS had limited IT capacity to support so many new machines but we were confident we could rally volunteers from tech to help meet that need,” says Luanda Arai, program manager for sea.citi. The organization quickly mobilized a cohort of volunteers and launched the Family Tech Support Center (FTSC) in partnership with the Alliance for Education to field calls from newly tech-enabled families.
FTSC has proven critical—since launching, volunteers have fielded over 2,500 calls and directly assisted over 750 families. As the new school year launches, Tableau Foundation is committed to ensuring FTSC can scale and become a permanent support fixture within SPS. With a $200,000 grant, Tableau Foundation will help stand up a more robust service center as students go back to school this fall. The funds will also support the creation of a Digital Equity Manager position for SPS, responsible for coordinating all efforts to ensure that students and families have access to the tech support they need, and that equity is kept at the center of remote learning strategies. Part of that effort will be ensuring that every school has a dedicated volunteer to field tech support questions, and the Digital Equity Manager will oversee this effort.
“Connecting volunteers directly to schools will allow them to build closer relationships with educators, staff and families. Trusting relationships will not only ensure families feel comfortable asking for what they need but will also enable the support network to be more proactive,” Arai says.
A Portfolio Approach
While FTSC is just one example of the type of equity work focused on schools and families that Tableau Foundation is funding through this round of grants, it highlights an underlying common sentiment: Even though the issues brought about or exacerbated by COVID-19 are significant, with dedicated focus, effort, and funding, they can be solvable. In our grantmaking this quarter, Tableau Foundation decided to focus on three often-overlapping areas of need—alleviating the immediate impacts of the pandemic on students and families; ensuring equity through this year of remote learning; and support the long-term success of students through this year and beyond—to ensure we’re helping solve these issues where we can.
Below, you can read more about each of the organizations we’re funding across these different impact channels. Through these grants, we want to uplift the leaders and organizations working together and directly with communities and people most impacted by the pandemic to ensure that the Puget Sound region emerges from this crisis as a more equitable and thriving place for all.
Addressing the immediate needs of students and families due to the pandemic and school shutdowns
FareStart ($150,000): When COVID-19 hit, FareStart stepped up quickly to ensure that students who qualify for free and reduced lunch were still able to access their daily meals—and also provided a made-from-scratch, reheatable dinner with every lunch. The grant provides the necessary funds to continue the program into the fall and provide an additional 33,000 healthy dinners to students each day.
Washington Building Leaders of Change ($75,000): WA BLOC’s work is to empower lifelong leaders through high-impact academic and place-based social justice leadership development. Their programs, which the grant will help support, include Feed the Beach, a program that activates youth leaders to address food access during the pandemic by sourcing and distributing meals from Black and Brown-owned restaurants, caterers and chefs in south Seattle.
FEEST ($75,000): During COVID-19, this Black-led, youth-oriented organization is providing meals to underserved youth and families in South King County. The grant will support their 2020-2021 youth leadership cohort in learning and organizing to conduct student-led social justice projects serving their peers and community.
Addressing the near-term impact of COVID-19 on student success
sea.citi Family Tech Support Center ($200,000): As local tech companies stepped up to provide laptops and internet connectivity to families in need as schools transitioned to remote learning, sea.citi recognized that they’d need tech support to get set up for success. The organization launched the Family Tech Support Center to respond to questions and support families through the transition to digital learning. As the new school year launches, the funding from Tableau Foundation will enable FTSC to scale and work more closely with Seattle Public Schools.
Technology Access Foundation ($350,000): Since 1997, Technology Access Foundation has provided STEM programming to nearly 20,000 students through partnerships with public schools and a dedicated school in Federal Way, where students have achieved a 95% college acceptance rate. As need accelerates due to COVID-19, the Tableau grant will support teachers and students transitioning to remote learning.
OneAmerica ($100,000): OneAmerica is the largest organization serving immigrants and refugees in Washington State. Tableau’s grant supports OneAmerica’s Youth program, which is led by young people of color advocating around education equity, especially college access for immigrants and refugees.
Addressing long-term education and career development
Rainier Scholars ($150,000): For the past 20 years, Rainier Scholars has been focused on ensuring students of color in South Seattle have the resources and skills they need to get into college and find success. The Tableau grant will enable them to support students with laptops and home wifi connectivity, as well as tools and training to enable students to learn remotely and close educational inequities formed during the pandemic.
Geeking Out Kids of Color ($125,000): This four-year-old nonprofit aims to teach kids about computer science through an inclusive, multicultural perspective. So far, it’s served over 170 kids through programs around data science, full stack web development, and other STEM skills. With this grant, GOKiC will be able to expand youth and family support programs and offer health insurance to educators.
Road Map Project ($150,000): The Roadmap Project works to improve education outcomes in seven South King County school districts. The grant to their Community Center for Education Results will help scale programs that enable schools improve student success, and support their use of data to improve education outcomes for underserved students.
Treehouse ($50,000): Treehouse supports school success and college preparedness programs for current and former foster youth. The Tableau Foundation grant will enable Treehouse’s direct service staff to continue regular remote meetings with youth, providing a consistent and positive adult presence to keep students engaged in school, setting goals, and looking forward to their future.
Zeno ($100,000): Zeno’s vision is a world where kids of color feel confident and supported in their math skills, which will set them up for success throughout their lives. The grant will accelerate Zeno’s ability to reach over 4,000 local families and 500 educators through preschools and other educational settings, and continue to increase opportunities for growing math skills at home.
Equal Opportunity Schools ($250,000): EOS focuses on closing the equity gap in schools by enrolling more students of color in advanced courses. This grant will help EOS implement a STEM Equity Initiative with SPS to identify, enroll and support black and brown students in STEM AP courses and internships.
This series of grants is focused specifically on Tableau’s hometown of Seattle and the surrounding Puget Sound region. Our parent company, Salesforce, recently announced a round of grants to five large school districts across the country—Oakland, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Chicago, and New York—to help them close the digital divide for students. Learn more about their grants here.