The CEO of Salesforce.com visited a San Francisco school today to highlight a $2.7 million donation by his company to the city’s middle schools — the largest one-time donation in the school district’s history, city officials said today.
Mayor Ed Lee and San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Richard Carranza joined Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in the city’s Portola neighborhood today to announce the donation.
Lee said the donation came about after discussions with Benioff and other local tech leaders about how to improve education in San Francisco, saying the city’s elementary and high schools were getting the bulk of the attention while resources were lacking in some middle schools.
Benioff’s donation includes $1.5 million that will go toward technology and infrastructure at the district’s 12 middle schools, as well as $100,000 for each school’s principal to use for innovation and improving STEM — or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—learning.
The first phase of the project is the introduction of 750 electronic tablets to the schools. School officials took Benioff and the mayor to a science class in which each student was equipped with a tablet.
When the teacher asked a question, each student answered it individually on the tablet.
“Every teacher knows the exact answer that a kid gives,” Lee said. “I don’t think you get that kind of feedback as we used to do by asking one or two kids to give an answer and the rest of the class is not paying as much attention. So I think that type of technology is tremendous.”
Benioff said his donation, given via the Salesforce.com Foundation, is “about our children, the most important resource in San Francisco.”
He said that with the tremendous wealth being generated by tech companies in San Francisco and Silicon Valey, “if we don’t give back, it’s all for nothing.”
Along with the financial gift, the Salesforce.com Foundation has pledged to commit thousands of employee volunteer hours to support the city’s middle schools.
Lee said Benioff is also giving him a year to come up with a proposal asking for an even larger donation from Salesforce.com.
Superintendent Carraza said, “This is a seminal changing point for public education in San Francisco.”
“We are in the technological Mesopotamia of the world … and our public schools should reflect that innovation,” he said.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News