Exclusive: Dr. Priscilla Chan explains how Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative Grant will help Bay Area teachers amid COVID-19

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, Dr. Priscilla Chan, co-founder of the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative talked one-on-one with ABC7 News anchor Kristen Sze about the latest CZI philanthropic project.

CZI is donating $1.2M to DonorsChoose to support teachers during distanced learning. DonorsChoose surveyed over 4,000 teachers.

They estimated 68 percent of their students lack the resources they need to learn at home.

Chan says teachers can apply by posting their their projects on DonorsChoose.

"So it can be art supplies, notebooks, books even groceries for kids who need it," Chan said. "And we're focusing on the low income-income schools in the Bay Area counties. We're just thrilled to be able to help our heroes in the classroom extend their reach at a time when it's so hard to stay connected."

In the Bay Area, the initiative is supporting teachers in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties who teach at schools where 50 percent or more of students qualify for a free or reduced price lunch.

CZI is providing teachers in these communities with a donation of up to $300 for their distance learning projects, for a total of $750,000 to local Bay Area teachers.

Donations will be applied to projects that cost up to $1,000 while funds last and there is a limit of one project per teacher.

Nationally, CZI is also providing $500,000 to match donations to DonorsChoose distance learning projects that cost up to $1,000 posted by teachers from schools across the country, where 75 percent or more students qualify for FRPL.

Dr. Chan says access to WiFi, laptops and distance learning is not the only inequality that needs urgent attention.

"Coronavirus has really highlighted a lot of the inequalities that were either right on the surface or brewing right below the surface," she said. "They're looking at us in the face now. We're seeing unprecedented food insecurity, access to learning, even risk of having coronavirus. So this needs to be top of mind as we think about how to address these issues over time."

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Dr. Chan is a member of Gov. Gavin Newsom's task force on business and jobs recovery, with CZI providing scientific research to guide the decision-making process.

Dr. Chan is a member of Gov. Gavin Newsom's task force on business and jobs recovery, with CZI providing scientific research to guide the decision-making process.

She says all those who can stay home should continue to work from home to the extent possible.

For those who must work outside the home, testing and access too personal protective equipment is critical.

ABC7 asked her if it might be too soon for the Bay Area to move into the next phase. Dr. Chan says we are moving in the right direction but still need to increase testing of active infection, as in on-demand swabbing test to see who currently has COVID-19.

"So that as soon as someone feels sick, we can know they actually need to quarantine to protect others, their family and their community," she said.

To that end, Chan-Zuckerberg has donated to $58 million thus far to various COVID-19 initiatives, including therapeutics research and a $13.6 million commitment to understand and contain COVID-19 in the Bay Area.

Partnering with UC San Francisco, Stanford and the Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub, the funding supports two studies, one to provide information about the change rates of infections to guide a safe re-opening of the economy and the second to focus on healthcare workers to understand whether antibodies protect against future infection.
Dr. Chan says she and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg founded the initiative in 2015 to celebrate the birth of their first child, Max.

"We had that moment when you have a child when you're like, 'oh my God, there's so much to do.' On our to do list was always to do our part to build a better world because we've had enormous opportunity in our lives. We wanted her to see us working hard on things that matter to us like build a better future. And for her to be a part of that future, we had to start right away," Chan said.

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