Jonjay, Rich #LoveUp Foundation gift new laptops to graduating eighth-graders

From left to right: DCS Deputy Director Shalom Jacobs; #LoveUp Foundation founder, Johnjay Van Es; foster youth posing with their new laptops; #LoveUp Foundation co-founder, Rich Berra; and DCS Director Greg McKay. (Submitted Photo)

The Johnjay and Rich #LoveUp Foundation and the Arizona Department of Child Safety surprised a group of graduating eighth-grade foster children with new Chromebook laptop computers through a new pilot program that aims to put technology in the hands of kids in Arizona’s foster care system.

With a grant from the Scottsdale Active 20-30 Club, #LoveUp purchased $22,000 worth of technology for the DCS pilot program. The 100 laptops will be distributed this summer to foster children who have been nominated by their DCS case managers, a press release states.

The children who receive the laptops will be trained on how to use them. The children will also receive Internet Safety training, which the Phoenix Police Department Internet Crimes Against Children detectives provided.

The program, called Fostering Achievement through Computer Technology (FACT), is a partnership between DCS and community partners such as #LoveUP to provide technology and training to Arizona’s foster youth, according to a release.

“Now more than ever, technology is vital to educational success; it’s the game-changer for students,” DCS Director Greg McKay said in a prepared statement. “We hope this program will help shrink the achievement gap for children in foster care.”

Children in foster care often struggle in school because they lack the tools necessary to succeed. Nationally, fewer than 70 percent of foster youth graduate from high school. And those that do graduate often struggle to complete college.

“The #LoveUp Foundation is proud to continue our partnership with Arizona Department of Child Safety,” foundation founder Johnjay Van Es said in a prepared statement.

“Foster children deserve to have the same advantages as other kids. If we can help make this happen, we are serving our mission to the best of our abilities.”

#LoveUp co-founder Rich Berra said the program is groundbreaking.

“This program is groundbreaking. Putting technology and training into the hands of these kids will pave the way for their education and their futures,” he said in a prepared statement.

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