It was a team effort. And the winners are city students.
Yale University is making a $50,000 donation toward the purchase of Google Chromebooks for students in need within the West Haven Public School District. The district has temporarily closed its schools and shifted to on-line learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, making student access to home computers an urgent priority.
With this donation, the university is working with Mayor Nancy Rossi, West Haven State Rep. Dorinda Borer (D-115), and West Haven Councilman Barry Lee Cohen to keep students connected to resources and education.
Cohen, the Republican 10th District Councilman, may have got the ball rolling on this in a March letter sent to Yale President Peter Salovey, published in the Voice. It was in reaction to a similar donation given the City of New Haven for its school system. Cohen reminded the Yale executive of the university’s presence in the city. He applauded the donation to the Elm City schools, and requested if the university might consider a similar one to West Haven.
In display of bi-partisanship, he worked with Borer to facilitate the idea, and the representative used her good offices to help work out the results.
“As the city’s councilman for the district that is the home of Yale West Campus, I witness firsthand the strong town-gown relationship that has been critical in spurring economic development initiatives and contributing to the livelihood of our small businesses,” said Cohen. “Yale’s extremely generous contribution not only facilitates the education of our youth but provides some sorely needed financial assistance to West Haven families during this most challenging time. I look forward to continued collaboration with the university.”
In seeing the results, Cohen was pleased.
“I care deeply about small business and families, therefore the reason for my letter. Some may say I threw the football, but Rep Borer scored a touchdown for the kids and that’s all that courts!”
Mayor Rossi added: “I want to thank Yale for their generosity and allegiance to the West Haven community and our students, and thank you to State Rep. Dorinda Borer for taking the lead. The more than 200 Chromebooks will ensure that our children have the tools needed for scholastic success in these very difficult and uncertain times. Yale is a true partner, and their support is very much appreciated.”
Borer also acknowledged the importance of the donation.
“When Yale committed to helping our community, I recommended the donation of Chromebooks because I believe it aligns perfectly with Yale’s mission and focus on the importance of a quality education. Every child in our city deserves that same opportunity towards a quality education, and this donation coupled with the Rotary Club’s computer donation is going to help fill a critical gap,” said. Borer.
And Superintendent Neil Cavallaro underscored the need for computers in particular.
“On Behalf of the West Haven Board of Education, I want to thank Yale University for the generous donation of $50,000,” Cavallaro said. “The funds will go towards the purchase of Chromebooks for students and their families who simply don’t have the resources during these trying times to purchase them. These devices are a critical component of the school district’s distance learning plan. I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge State Representative Dorinda Borer for working with the university to secure the funds. From her time on the Board of Education, and now as a state representative, she has always been a strong advocate for education and, most importantly, our students.”
While closing schools and transitioning to online learning is essential for stemming the spread of the virus, there are significant gaps in computer and internet access among students.
“Our donation reflects Yale University’s ongoing commitment to education and to addressing the community’s needs for distance learning during these challenging times,” said Yale’s Lauren Zucker, associate vice president for New Haven Affairs and University Properties.
Yale has moved quickly on several fronts to support the local community, and will continue to do so through a growing number of initiatives and programs. To learn more about Yale’s response to COVID-19, visit the Yale COVID-19 response website.