Google awards teachers grants in low-income Bronx communities

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P.S. 306 art teacher Chrissy Pappas-Russo who was the recipient of $1,000 grant from DonorsChoose and is buying her students art care packages.
Courtesy of Lynn Overmyer/DonorsChoose

Earlier this month Google awarded $1,000 grants to teachers in schools serving lower-income communities to educators who are registered through DonorsChoose.

This was part of National Teacher week, and on May 4, Google announced a $2 million national grant to the Keep Kids Learning program, where $247,000 will go to 247 NYC teachers. In total, 149 teachers in the Bronx were recipients.

“Even as we adapt to our new realities, a quality education is the foundation that elevates all of us as a society and as a community, and I want to thank all the teachers currently working hard to educate our students despite the adversity we face,”  said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Investments such as the one the Google New York Office has made to our teachers, through DonorsChoose, is investing in the bright future of our leaders of tomorrow, giving our teachers the necessary resources to provide our students with the tools, analytic-thinking and academic skill-sets to thrive throughout their future endeavors.”

One of those educators who was a recipient of the funds is Chrissy Pappas-Russo. The 41-year-old teacher, who has taught art for 20 years at P.S. 306 in Morris Heights, has gotten grants from DonorsChoose in the past.

With the funds, she is giving her students art care packages that will have basic supplies, such as crayons, markers, watercolor paints and paper. She has handed out some supplies already and is waiting for the rest to arrive.

She teaches 660 kids and many don’t have art tools at home. The hope is that now everyone can be on a level playing field, especially if they have to attend school remotely in the fall.

“I’ve noticed the work that has been submitted and who needs it [care packages],” Pappas-Russo said. “It’s a wonderful program that DonorsChoose have set up.”

Another obstacle has been finding materials for assignments. But the kids have put in the effort and made posters to thank essential workers, used kitchen objects to create portraits and found household items to make a color wheel.

“Going forward, it will be a much better experience for everyone,” she stressed. “The students are extremely creative. It’s challenging for many of the students being stuck home like this. I miss going to work. I never thought I’d say that.”

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