Laptop distribution

More than 200 students at Carrie P. Meek/Westview K-8 Center recently received laptops and essential school supplies like notebooks, pencils and backpacks, thanks to The Education Fund, a nonprofit that provides educational resources to Miami-Dade County Public Schools teachers and students.

The effort was made possible through a partnership with the Kids in Need Foundation and fast-casual restaurant chain Chipotle. An estimated 3,100 students will be similarly helped nationwide, starting with local distributions here in Miami.

Madison McCutcheon, a middle school student attending in-person classes at the school, was relieved to receive a laptop. She explained that she struggled with internet accessibility both during instruction time and while completing homework.

“This is really helpful because some of the websites my teachers ask me to go on are restricted [on M-DCPS laptops and desktop computers],” she said. “Now I can go on those websites with this new laptop and get my work done.”

McCutcheon’s grandmother, Clarice, expressed gratitude. As the primary guardian for her four grandchildren, she is tasked with meeting their basic needs and – as she’s currently also battling cancer – mentioned that she’s sometimes overwhelmed by the task.

“I’ve been taking care of them ever since they were in prekindergarten,” she said. “This benefits us because they can get what they need.”

Though the distribution was originally for middle school students at the school, parents who showed up for the distribution either on foot or by car were not turned away, said Teresa Waters-Cain, the lead teacher who helped organize the event.

“It’s important that these children receive these much-needed computers, as many of them are not able to afford something like this,” said distribution volunteer Melonie Burke, intergovernmental affairs liaison for Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

Another 112 laptops are reserved for active members of The Education Fund’s SmartPath to College initiative, a collective of college assistance programs at Miami Jackson, Booker T. Washington, Miami Northwestern and Miami Senior High Schools.

“This was one of our biggest donation distributions with the Kids in Need Foundation and Chipotle, but we are doing smaller distributions at our partner high schools where we’ve identified that there’s also a need,” said Debbie La Belle, Education Fund program manager.

The laptop distribution effort is just one of many ways The Education Fund is committed to alleviating educational barriers. The organization has distributed $3 million worth of donated school supplies and other materials to students and their families.

Schools selected for the computer distribution program are part of The Education Fund’s Food Forests for Schools initiative, which creates acres of outdoor learning labs in the form of edible gardens that teach important life skills to participating students. Nearly 51 schools have joined the program to encourage students to improve eating patterns and provide a stable food source to their families through distribution of harvested fruits, vegetables and herbs.