Marc Benioff Wants to Make Bay Area Schools ‘Best in Country’


Marc Benioff Wants to Make Bay Area Schools ‘Best in Country’

By Antoinette Siu     Sep 1, 2016

Marc Benioff Wants to Make Bay Area Schools ‘Best in Country’

Salesforce announced its fourth donation to Bay Area schools to fund computer science education Thursday morning.

Salesforce’s donation this year of $8.5 million goes to San Francisco Unified School District and Oakland Unified School District to fund principals’ innovative ideas, hiring computer science and math teachers, developing college and career guidance and buying assistive technology for special education.

This is Salesforce’s fourth year donating to San Francisco schools and its first year donating to Oakland schools, which will receive $2.5 million of the total amount.

About 30 Salesforce volunteers, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Rep. Barbara Lee, San Francisco Superintendent Richard Carranza and Oakland Superintendent Antwan Wilson attended the event with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

“What we want to do is make sure that all of these great middle schools in Oakland and San Francisco are the best middle schools in the country,” Benioff said.

“And then we want you to come back here and make Oakland better. Make San Francisco better.”

Excited to celebrate $8.5 mil investment from @Benioff for #Oakland & #SanFrancisco students!— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) September 1, 2016

The announcement was held at Frick Impact Academy in Oakland, CA, one of the schools “adopted” by Salesforce as part of the Circle the Schools initiative.

At the event, Salesforce volunteers handed out Salesforce goodie bags, mingled with sponsors and raffled off HP Chromebooks to Frick students, who shared their excitement for the donation in song and dance. Salesforce provided taco trucks stocked with burritos to feed the crowd.

Frick students celebrate at Salesforce announcement of $8.5M to Bay Area schools #whipnay— Antoinette Siu (@antoinettesiu) September 1, 2016
.@salesforce raffling off Chromebooks at Frick Impact Academy after announcing $8.5M grant to Bay Area schools— Antoinette Siu (@antoinettesiu) September 1, 2016

Lee kicked off the program, sharing the vision for schools working with Bay Area companies like Salesforce. The San Francisco mayor says they approached this project with data and asked where the need was biggest. The goal is growing the talent at these schools, Lee adds.

“Middle schools was where we were most challenged,” Lee said. “Three years ago no middle school in San Francisco [had] WiFi. Can you believe that?”

“The jobs just a few years around the corner for all [students] demand that you’ve got to have a better STEM education.”

Schaaf, a native of Oakland, talked about Oakland Promise, an effort trying to triple the number of college graduates from Oakland within the next decade. Some of Salesforce’s money also goes to supporting these Future Centers, advising centers at middle and high schools for students to get guidance on college and career goals.

“We need to touch young people every critical moment of their lives to tell them, ‘We expect you to finish high school and to finish college,’” Schaaf said.

Rep. Lee, who co-chairs mentoring program TAC 2020, says Congress is working on supporting STEM education on a national level. Lee applauded Benioff’s 1:1:1 model at Salesforce, where the company commits 1 percent of equity, 1 percent of employee time and 1 percent of product to serve the community.

Lee, who was asked by many Frick students whether she knew the president, ensured that STEM education is a national and regional priority for Congress and beyond.

“[President Obama] has championed computer science for all, which we will get passed and done on your behalf,” Lee said.

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