Seems like the Sixers have been more active than any of the local teams when it comes to COVID-19 related stuff, for better or worse.
That includes positives like the Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment decision to pay workers at the Prudential Center and Wells Fargo Center. It also includes negatives, like the 24 hour rollercoaster of deafening feedback that resulted in the scrapping of a plan to reduce employee pay.
Josh Harris sent out a statement apologizing for that, even though it’s his company and he can do what he wants. Maybe they messed up when it came to the furlough idea, but they’ve gotten pretty much everything else right, in my opinion, which includes two more initiatives made public today.
First up, we’ve got the School District of Philadelphia announcing that HBSE stepped up to help purchase 10,000 Chromebooks for students:
PHILADELPHIA, March 30, 2020 — The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia announced today that Managing Partner Josh Harris, Co-Managing Partner David Blitzer and the Philadelphia 76ers have stepped up to fund the purchase of 10,000 computers to make distance learning possible for all students during the extended school closure due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.
“We are ecstatic to learn that the Sixers are helping our students get computers in their homes so they can continue to learn during what is an unprecedented time for all of us,” said Superintendent William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D. “Our hometown team has come through in such an amazing way, proving that they are the true MVPs. I know I speak for our students, families and staff when I thank them for their generosity.”
According to a 2019 School District survey, approximately half of the students in grades 3 through 12 had access to computers at home. The Sixers’ gift will help level the playing field and ensure that all students who attend the 220 District-led public schools across Philadelphia have the tools they need to learn at home.
“Josh Harris, David Blitzer and the entire Sixers organization have been great partners to the District over the years with the team’s focus on supporting the youth in our region,” said Donna Frisby Greenwood, President & CEO of the Fund. “We’re impressed that they stepped up this quickly to help purchase the computers that are urgently needed for our students.”
To ensure all 120,000-plus public-school students have access to distance learning during this COVID-19 crisis that has closed schools, the District plans to buy additional Chromebooks to supplement the existing computers that are currently being repurposed for distribution.
The District’s Board of Education voted last week to authorize up to $11 million for the purchase of new computers. Support from outside sources to cover the costs of buying new computers will decrease the total amount needed from the District’s budget.
The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia is the recipient of donations for the District and partners with corporations, small businesses and individuals that want to support the public schools. The nonprofit works directly with the District to identify where the funds raised are most valuable.
Second, and this was reported earlier, but Philabundance send out a release informing us that the Sixers Youth Foundation made a six-figure donation, which will “be used to provide 20,000 boxes of food that will feed 160,000 people across the Philadelphia region during this critical time of need.”
So listen, yes, the Sixers got absolutely hammered for the employee pay reduction thing, but Josh Harris apologized for that, which means something. Now they’ve put more money into local relief efforts while Michael Rubin is converting his Easton factory to make gowns and masks. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are making their own contributions separate from ownership. If we’re going to sit here and destroy the Sixers for last week, then it’s only fair to give them credit for getting everything else right.