PHOENIX — The Arizona Cardinals and Desert Financial Credit Union donated 33 Chromebooks to Ironwood Elementary, a Title 1 school in Phoenix.
Sue Young, a fifth-grade teacher at Ironwood Elementary, was the recipient of an 'Adopt a Teacher' award from Desert Financial earlier this year and was given $5,000 to restock her classroom.
When schools closed and classes moved online, Young asked if she could use the balance of her funds to purchase some laptops for students in need at the school.
"I went ahead and contacted Amber Allen at Desert Financial just to see if I could do that," Young said. "She was like, 'Oh, well, I don't think you need to use the rest of your balance, let me check into this. I bet we can do even more!'"
Desert Financial then teamed up with the Cardinals and surprised Young with $11,000, enough to buy 33 laptops.
"And, lo and behold, Amber worked her magic, and she worked with the Cardinals and Desert Financial and she ended up getting us a donation so that we could get 33 more Chromebooks for Ironwood," Young said.
Title 1 schools like Ironwood are in areas where there are many low-income families. All 500 students at Ironwood receive free lunches. To decide who would be receiving a laptop, Young and her fellow teachers identified 33 students who either did not have a computer at home or were sharing one with several siblings.
"This is such a huge impact because it's going to allow us to get computers in the kids' hands so that they can connect with their teacher at home," Ironwood Elementary Principal Polly Schultz said.
Desert Financial said this was inspired by their 'Random Acts of Kindness' initiative, which has impacted more than 183,000 people since it was started in 2018.
"We were moved by Ms. Young's generosity, so we teamed up with the Arizona Cardinals to honor that spirit with one of Desert Financial's signature 'Random Acts of Kindness,' Desert Financial President and CEO Jeff Meshey said in a press release. "We wanted her to save those original funds for other needs. We know when students are given the tools they need to learn, especially right now, when so many need laptops, they're better prepared to break the cycle of poverty in the future."
Young says moving classes online due to the pandemic has been tough for her students as not having access to technology at home has put them at risk of falling behind academically.
"That was just such an overwhelming, generous gift for Ironwood," Young said. "What a crazy snowball this has been because it has rolled into one great big generous gift I know is impacting not only the kiddos, it's impacting our teachers and the whole community."
Schultz says the impact of this donation will last much longer than just this school year.
"(Students are) at home, all this stuff is going on, they don't understand it fully," Schultz said. "They're missing their friends, they're missing their teacher, they miss the custodian, they're missing the assistants that seem them on the playground. And so, having this device is allowing kids to connect with that. It's affecting not just the students, but their families, our whole entire staff, and then the school for next year. It just has this wonderful trickle-down effect."