By Ural Garrett
LOS ANGELES — Students from the Los Angeles School of Global Studies at the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex near downtown received a backpack April 10 that held a laptop computer and other items courtesy of the EduCare Foundation and Vans.
Along with new Samsung Chromebooks, the backpacks included hats, wallets, shoes and other items for about 300 students from the high school.
Armando Diaz, director of programs and partnerships for EduCare, partnering with Vans was something to be grateful for.
“Vans approached one of our teachers here at Global Studies and we partnered together for the students,” Diaz said. “We are very grateful for that.”
EduCare Foundation, which is celebrating 30 years of providing after-school programs for dozens of LAUSD schools, has lent support to all four schools housed within the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex. Since the COVID-19 pandemic caused schools to move from in-person to at-home learning, the organization has made adjustments.
“For us, we definitely made a shift in supporting the schools we support virtually,” Diaz said of EduCare Foundation, which provides everything from after-school tutoring to emotional and social learning support. “We were able to shift right away last spring. Supporting those students who are most in need from our English learners and foster care students, we’ve been able to work with them as well.”
Helping out with the laptop distribution is part of Vans’ efforts to support communities in need.
Since their inception in 1966, Vans hasn’t been shy about their community efforts such as providing shoes and clothes for individuals in need during natural disasters. and son of company co-founder Paul Van Doren, Steve Van Doren, they’ve always helped various schools across the country.
“We’ve helped over 3,000 high schools through our custom culture program for over 11 years,” said Steve Van Doren, vice president of events and promotions for Vans, who is the son of Vans founder Paul Van Doren. “We’ve been giving out shoes, socks, shirts, wallets, bandanas and all of that but we never have given computers away.”
The laptop giveaway was designed to ease the digital divide faced by many LAUSD students. As schools prepare re-open after the pandemic lockdown, thousands of students lack computers and adequate Wi-Fi.
That includes senior Global Studies student Andrew Salazar, who had to share a small laptop with his family.
“It’s one little laptop that isn’t really that great and I was sharing it between four people,” said Salazar, who plans on attending Cal State L.A. in the fall to major in film. “I feel like I have my own space now.”
According to Los Angeles School of Global Studies principal Christian Quintero, many students were using outdated Chromebooks.
“We partnered up with Vans and EduCare and they asked what would be a way to best service students’ needs,” Quintero said. “The answer was that access to newer technology would be very helpful. So they stepped up and gave Chromebooks to each one of our students.
“The next step would be for the city to give free WiFi to everyone in this particular community so we don’t have to worry about hotspots for them or other connectivity issues.”
Sophomore Kelsi Amador had been trying to repair a broken laptop for two weeks. That burden was lifted off with her new Chromebook.
“It’s really nice and I appreciate it a lot,” Amador said. “It’s a great help and comes just in time.”