Bronx, NY — On Wednesday, January 26th, Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson and AT&T joined with Congressmember Ritchie Torres, Assemblywoman Yudelka Tapia, State Senator Gustavo Rivera, and Council Member Oswald Feliz to announce the donation of 100 Samsung A7 tablets and 150 backpacks filled with water bottles, healthy snacks, notebooks, and pencils to the children and families impacted by the tragic fire at Twin Parks North West.

The tablets, which come with six months of free mobile internet connectivity to help the students to stay connected until the end of the current school year, and school supplies were provided by AT&T and distributed to families in partnership with the New York City Department of Education. The tablets also offer free talk and text service, so families displaced by the fire can stay in contact with loved ones.

“The digital divide and deep educational inequities are something Bronx students are faced with on a daily basis,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a systemic challenge that our community has faced for decades, and now, in the aftermath of the horrific fire at Twin Parks North West, we know the impacted families have been met with even greater challenges in making sure their children have the resources to keep up with their school work. I applaud AT&T for stepping up and providing these devices to help ensure these students do not fall behind, and I thank the New York City DOE for working with us to make sure these devices land directly in the hands of these students and families.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who was impacted by this horrific fire. We are partnering with the Bronx Borough President and the NYC DOE to provide aid and support to our neighbors in their time of need,” said Judy Cavalieri, Vice President and General Manager, AT&T New York. “AT&T is committed to helping the communities we serve.”

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members,” said Erika Tobia, Executive Superintendent of the Bronx. “We want to thank everyone for your love, support, and donations!”

AT&T’s support for these families is part of a recently announced $2 billion nationwide commitment to help bridge the digital divide and homework gap. This effort is also an outgrowth of AT&T’s commitment as the steward of FirstNet — America’s public safety network, which helps ensure first responders have the critical information and communications tools they need in every emergency. As the builder and provider of America’s public safety network, AT&T is thanking and honoring the hundreds of firefighters and other first responders who saved New Yorkers’ lives during this tragedy by supporting the surviving families.

“The pandemic has exacerbated the digital divide and the educational inequities that Bronx students deal with everyday. It has laid bare the need to increase access to remote technology and tools to help students learn in a challenging environment that will continue to change. The families impacted by the Twin Parks NW fire were already dealing with these issues, and now must contend with even harsher circumstances. I’m proud to join BP Gibson, AT&T and Bronx officials in distributing tablets and other educational tools to the families which we hope will help in their recovery. While this is a small gesture, we are committed to helping the families build back their lives, and expanding educational access to students throughout the Bronx,” said Representative Ritchie Torres, 15th Congressional District.

“I must thank our Borough President Gibson and all the elected officials in government that have worked tirelessly since the tragedy took place,” said Assemblywoman Yudelka Tapia. “Thank you to the first responders and the generosity of all of the residents who contributed to our families in need, in so many ways. This partnership with AT&T is so important and this generous donation of 100 tablets will help to close the digital gap for the students that were impacted. I look forward to continuing to work with my fellow elected officials in government to broker many more deals between the public and private sector, with the intentions of addressing inequalities.”

“I’m grateful for the Bronx Borough President’s dedication to supporting the victims of the devastating fire at Twin Parks. The community deserves all of the resources and support that we can offer,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, 33rd Senate District. “I look forward to continued collaboration to support them and to prevent tragedies by ensuring healthy housing, especially regarding adequate heat during the coldest months.”

“This is the age of information and as we continue to connect more through development of ICT it is important that we don’t let the digital divide stop our Bronx students from flourishing,” said Council Member Oswald Feliz, 15th Council District. “Bronx students deserve equal access into all the opportunities that comes with technology. The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated what happens when we do not invest in technology and infrastructure in our communities. Unequal access to technology is a detriment to low income communities and an issue that has been ignored for far too long. We have to acknowledge that technology is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity. We must treat it as such and give our students the best tools and opportunities to aide in the solution of wealth inequality.”

Click here for information on how to support the families impacted by the fire at Twin Parks North West.