The Brownsville Independent School District announced Wednesday that it has received $2.53 million from the Musk Foundation in a second round of funding, money the district said it would use to purchase computer hardware and software to support math and science instruction.
“We all know the jobs of the future are all targeted to math and science,” Anysia R. Trevino, deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said of utilizing money donated by the Musk Foundation. “When you impact mathematics and science you’re also impacting literacy, that’s where the reading comes in. It’s all connected. We want to make sure he feels that his investment is being put to use in a wise way. We’re not going to just throw funds away on something that isn’t research-based. … We want to challenge our kids and we want to provide them with the resources needed.”
Among other things, the money will be used to buy laptops, iPads, desktop computers and interactive panels district wide, along with the software to enable students to use the hardware creatively.
In addition to the funds announced Wednesday, foundation CEO Elon Musk announced in April his intention to donate $20 million to Cameron County schools, including $2.41 million to BISD, which was used to expand several Career and Technical Education programs.
Trevino said the donations come at a critical time as students recover from the learning losses associated with the COVID 19 pandemic.
“I think our kids need this hands-on approach,” she said. “They need to know that people believe in them, and with Elon Musk coming in, the message is he is believing in them. They see him as a figure of success, and he believes in our community and he’s investing in them. It just adds to their self-confidence,” she said.
“Yes, Elon Musk, one of the richest people in the world if not the richest, is believing in our kids and saying, ‘I’m willing to invest in them.’ They know what it is. SpaceX is right around the corner to them. It builds their self-confidence that they can be there one day.”
In March, Musk tweeted a pledge to invest $10 million toward downtown revitalization. Of that amount, $2 million has gone to the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation’s Business Improvement and Growth (BIG) program, which aims to put empty downtown buildings back into commission.
“That helped bring close to 20 projects in the pipeline for downtown with the intended purpose of reactivating buildings and having new tenants come in,” said BCIC President and CEO Josh Mejia earlier this month.
The Musk Foundation says its primary purpose is supporting renewable energy research and advocacy, human space exploration research and advocacy, pediatric research, and science and engineering education.
Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez said in April that the foundation’s support of downtown revitalization in part reflects Musk’s interest in attracting more personnel to support the Starship development program at Boca Chica, the production/testing complex SpaceX has dubbed “Starbase.” Musk wants downtown to be a magnet for those people, Mendez said.
“They want to continue to see downtown become a destination,” he said. “They want to see it being something that will help them attract personnel to their company. You want arts and culture. You want destinations. You want something for people to want to come to.”