Giveathon Update: Cleveland Metropolitan School District

When we talk about impact, actions speak louder than words. We’re interested in literally improving outcomes.

In the summer of 2020 we partnered with the Cleveland Indians for our annual Giveathon. Our aim was to help strikeout the digital divide in Cleveland.

Here is what that impact looked like at Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

Read the Transcript

Matt Kaulig

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District is devoted to challenging students with a curriculum that considers individual learning styles, preferences and capabilities of each student. By investing in new technologies, educators, administrators and staff, they're committed to the brightest future possible for students.

Bob DiBiasio

For more than 20 years, CMSD has been one of our closest relationships. Cleveland Indians Charities uses baseball and softball as a catalyst for change for students. However, 2020 required us to shift. Through the giveathon this year, CIC and CMSD were able to help students continue learning despite being away from the school building. Let's see how students benefited from the community's generosity.

Eric Gordon

As a community, we have the highest childhood poverty in the country, we have the worst digital divide in the country and unfortunately, the ninth most segregated city in the country. And so those are stressors that face our community. But we've also got an amazing community of resilient students and families that make it all worth it.

Eric Gordon

So a year ago, when COVID struck hard and closed schools, we were a district that didn't have access to digital technology and suddenly weren't allowed to have our students in schools. So we had to take some pretty creative responses. But we also had to respond for the longer-term--COVID's been almost a year now--and so over that time, we also have had to raise money and invest in over 37,000 devices for students to use and over 25,000 hotspots to connect this disconnected city so that we could work in a virtual environment like so many of our peer districts already were doing.

Eric Gordon

So the Cleveland Indians Charities Giveathon was just a wonderful asset at just the right time. The Indians started by repurposing their existing grant to us that normally would go to spring athletics, which we couldn't do to help us to get hot spots and devices for families. But that was just a small chink in a big, big problem. So the giveathon raised over $50,000 so quickly that we were able to immediately turn around to connect students and families and we were able to use it as leverage to match with state aid and federal aid to bring even more dollars into the community. And so every give, whether it was a smaller or a bigger give, had a huge impact for my kids in my community.

Eric Gordon

You know, one of the benefits of coronavirus, there actually are a few their small one of the benefits, is we are now a one-one-to-one to one technology district, meaning every student has their own device, very much like their suburban peers have had often for many years. But we have to maintain that. And that means we have to replace about a quarter of those devices every single year because laptops have about a four-year year life to them.

Eric Gordon

And so the ongoing support of the Cleveland Indians Charities, the giveathon and others who make sure that our kids stay digitally connected is going to be really critical. The other and bigger problem is taking those hot spots that the giveathon helped us provide and making that permanent access for our families. You know, so many of us don't even think about our digital Internet access, but for my community, it's a luxury, not a utility. And we need a permanent solution. And it's going to take charitable giving to get that one-time infrastructure build complete so that we can rely on it not just during the pandemic, but forever.

Eric Gordon

Closing this digital divide, which is something we've managed to do over the last year with a lot of support from Cleveland Indian charities and others has been really critical at reaching the success milestones that our students knew they could achieve. I've seen it play out. I've watched our dance studio do live videos. We had our All-City Arts Performance concert broadcast in countries across the world where families who don't even live here in Cleveland watch their children.

Eric Gordon

It's those kinds of things that just awe me, you know, that I know what we're going to see is truly a renaissance that comes out of this, of people who become artists because of what they experienced or become doctors because they want to create a cure or a teacher because of what they experienced; maybe a politician because what they did or didn't, you know. So I'm really excited about what this generation is going to do with what they've experienced. And, you know, the Giveathon created those tools that allow my students to do these things.

Eric Gordon

The Cleveland Indians Charities has been such a great partner for many, many years. But it's only one of the ways the Indians contribute. So we also work very closely with their professional development team on our own equity inclusion work. And they're now part of the three-team alliance that's studying bigger societal issues: racial justice issues, workforce development issues, hunger issues, which is a big issue for my kids and my community, and many others. And so I'm just grateful for the full force of the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Indians Charities and for their focus on who matters most: our kids and our community.

Eric Gordon

People who gave to the giveathon often wonder if they make a difference, and especially if you're somebody that doesn't have the ability to give a lot. And I just want people to know it makes a difference. And it's not a hypothetical difference. It's not for kids somewhere else. It's my kids in our community who are better off because of the gift that somebody gave at the giveathon to a child that they didn't even know.

Bob DiBiasio

Thank you to every person who stepped up to the plate during this challenge, but we still need to do more to aid our students.

Matt Kaulig

To learn more about how you can help Cleveland Metropolitan Schools Strike Out the digital divide, visit www.ClevelandMetroSchools.org