Technology in School

Nonprofit Arm of Salesforce Donates $15.5 Million to San Francisco and Oakland Schools

By Tina Nazerian     Sep 25, 2018

Nonprofit Arm of Salesforce Donates $15.5 Million to San Francisco and Oakland Schools
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff speaking at Dreamforce.

Salesforce.org, the nonprofit division of Salesforce, today pledged to give $15.5-million to two California school districts to bolster computer science education, train teachers, teach math in innovative ways and support projects to encourage mindfulness.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced the donation during the annual ‘Dreamforce’ conference in San Francisco.

Since 2013, Salesforce.org has donated more than $50 million to the two Bay Area school districts. Last year, it donated $12.2 million to expand computer science education in both. This year San Francisco Unified School District will get $8 million, and Oakland Unified School District will get $7.5 million.

This year mindfulness and thinking about the “whole child” will be infused in all of the organization’s partnerships, said Ebony Frelix, Salesforce.org's executive vice president and chief philanthropy officer, “because we know that what happens outside of the classroom impacts what happens inside the classroom.”

Frelix pointed to Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco as an example. Students there have the option of getting help from mindfulness coaches, and she said the school has seen a decrease in absenteeism, bullying and classroom behavior incidents. Salesforce.org also donated $2 million toward efforts to fight family and youth homelessness today.

Kyla Johnson-Trammell, the superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District, said that past funds from Salesforce.org have supported the “Principal’s Innovation Fund,” a program where middle school principals can use the money as they see fit, whether that’s through creating a makerspace or adding mental-health services. The district has also used some of the money to support students who are refugees.

OUSD is trying to focus on middle schoolers, as its leaders have found that the key to sparking interest in computer science, especially for kids of color, is exposing students to technology when they are younger. Even if the students don’t end up in tech careers, said Johnson-Trammell, the hope is that they will benefit from the critical thinking skills they gained from coding. Careers, however, was a big part of San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s speech at the event. Breed, who went to public schools in the city, said that many of her friends ended up dropping out, landing in prison, or losing their lives to gun violence.

Students learn coding skills at Dreamforce.

“We are going to change what is normal in San Francisco because we are going to invest in our kids on the front end,” said Breed. “We are going to make sure that the doors of opportunity in the technology field are available to them. That’s what this contribution is about—leaving no child behind.”

Breed challenged other San Francisco-based companies to support local school districts.

So did Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “Companies cannot sit on the moral sidelines any longer,” Schaaf said. “Companies have a responsibility and a need to take positions.”

Nonprofit Arm of Salesforce Donates $15.5 Million to San Francisco and...

Technology in School

Nonprofit Arm of Salesforce Donates $15.5 Million to San Francisco and Oakland Schools

By Tina Nazerian     Sep 25, 2018

Nonprofit Arm of Salesforce Donates $15.5 Million to San Francisco and Oakland Schools
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff speaking at Dreamforce.

Salesforce.org, the nonprofit division of Salesforce, today pledged to give $15.5-million to two California school districts to bolster computer science education, train teachers, teach math in innovative ways and support projects to encourage mindfulness.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced the donation during the annual ‘Dreamforce’ conference in San Francisco.

Since 2013, Salesforce.org has donated more than $50 million to the two Bay Area school districts. Last year, it donated $12.2 million to expand computer science education in both. This year San Francisco Unified School District will get $8 million, and Oakland Unified School District will get $7.5 million.

This year mindfulness and thinking about the “whole child” will be infused in all of the organization’s partnerships, said Ebony Frelix, Salesforce.org's executive vice president and chief philanthropy officer, “because we know that what happens outside of the classroom impacts what happens inside the classroom.”

Frelix pointed to Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco as an example. Students there have the option of getting help from mindfulness coaches, and she said the school has seen a decrease in absenteeism, bullying and classroom behavior incidents. Salesforce.org also donated $2 million toward efforts to fight family and youth homelessness today.

Kyla Johnson-Trammell, the superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District, said that past funds from Salesforce.org have supported the “Principal’s Innovation Fund,” a program where middle school principals can use the money as they see fit, whether that’s through creating a makerspace or adding mental-health services. The district has also used some of the money to support students who are refugees.

OUSD is trying to focus on middle schoolers, as its leaders have found that the key to sparking interest in computer science, especially for kids of color, is exposing students to technology when they are younger. Even if the students don’t end up in tech careers, said Johnson-Trammell, the hope is that they will benefit from the critical thinking skills they gained from coding. Careers, however, was a big part of San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s speech at the event. Breed, who went to public schools in the city, said that many of her friends ended up dropping out, landing in prison, or losing their lives to gun violence.

Students learn coding skills at Dreamforce.

“We are going to change what is normal in San Francisco because we are going to invest in our kids on the front end,” said Breed. “We are going to make sure that the doors of opportunity in the technology field are available to them. That’s what this contribution is about—leaving no child behind.”

Breed challenged other San Francisco-based companies to support local school districts.

So did Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “Companies cannot sit on the moral sidelines any longer,” Schaaf said. “Companies have a responsibility and a need to take positions.”

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