This fall, as the new school year began for Savannah and Chatham County students and their families, SCAD President Paula Wallace and other university leaders joined with Mayor Van R. Johnson and the Savannah River Presbytery’s John Ruehl to announce the university’s donation of 160 computers for use by area K-12 students in virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The donation consists of 80 Macs and 80 PCs with updated software and peripherals, including keyboards and monitors. SCAD has made the technology available for use in learning pods across the city, including those operated by area nonprofits, community organizations, and area churches and faith centers.
“SCAD has continued to serve our own students thanks to two powerful assets: our own creativity and our technology. We know the students of Savannah’s community schools are creative! And this technology now helps advance that gift and their learning,” said SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace. “As a former elementary school teacher, I’m profoundly proud to partner with RISE and Mayor Van Johnson to ensure Savannah’s children have the tools and tech they need to learn, laugh, and grow during this unprecedented moment.”
“We have been blessed by a strong faith-community partnership called Savannah Faith, and this partnership, combined with this gracious gift from SCAD, will create greater access to learning opportunities for our young people during this pandemic,” said Mayor Van Johnson. “During these extraordinary times, we have seen the best of Savannah quickly coming to the aid of those who need it. We are Savannah strong because of what Savannah does.”
The origins of the donation can be traced back to Savannah Faith, the mayor’s faith-based community taskforce, when a need was identified to provide physical space and resources for students who need guidance and supervision during virtual learning. Thus was born the RISE (Religious Institutions Supporting Education) Coalition.
“Together, we believe that if we lean on our faith and work as a community, we can rise to meet the challenges of our time, said Pastor Ruehl, chair of RISE. “We have created proposals for virtual learning support centers, which can serve as models for any organization wishing to offer students space to learn online.”
Churches and houses of worship engaged with RISE for use of the computers include Urban Hope, St. Paul’s CME, Connor’s Temple, Jesus First the Community Church, Mosaic Church, Fresh Fire From Heaven, Kingdom Life Christian Fellowship, and Butler Memorial Presbyterian Church.
Regarding SCAD’s long tradition of championing love through learning and community goodwill, Wallace said, “The challenges before us may be addressed through compassionate community action, the very ethos of SCAD, reflected in the art supplies we distribute through the SCAD Buzz Bus, our decade-long engagement with the Esther F. Garrison School for the Arts, and the university’s enduring commitment to education, exploration, and empowerment.”
Additionally, SCAD has partnered with Blessings in a Book Bag to provide more than a hundred backpacks to students in need. Each bag is stuffed with useful school supplies for Savannah’s K-12 students, from pens and notebooks to scissors and crayons.
Mahogany Bowers, founder of Blessings in a Book Bag, said, “We have students and parents who need this support now more than ever. So many families have lost income during the pandemic. We have to help, and SCAD always steps up to the plate.” In addition to school supplies, the effort also donates gift cards to help with gas and grocery costs.
“I think 2020 has reminded all of us to be prepared for anything,” said Wallace. “SCAD wants to help prepare our community to adapt and flourish during this and every season.”
Learn more about SCAD and Paula Wallace here: https://www.artandobject.com/news/art-talk-scad-president-paula-wallace