Major Business Support for Hurricane Relief
As 2018 Draws to a Close, State Superintendent Johnson Announces Major Business Support for Hurricane Relief Effort from Google and Others
By: Elizabeth Lincicome
North Carolina State Superintendent Mark Johnson spent almost the entire fourth quarter of 2018 visiting the regions hardest hit by September’s Hurricane Florence. After visiting with so many devastated citizens who had been forced to rebuild their entire lives, a welcome bright spot of news came just before the Christmas holiday, when on Dec. 20, Johnson announced major new business support for the state education leaders’ Florence relief effort known as FAST NC.
Florence Aid for Students and Teachers in NC is a bipartisan initiative created after so many North Carolina Schools were affected by the storm. Since its inception, FAST NC has received donations of nearly $1 million from individuals and businesses across the country, but the December announcement stood out as Google.org pledged $500,000 to FAST NC, the largest donation ever. As is the case with all FAST NC donations, Johnson said Google’s gift would be used to help affected schools replace supplies, equipment and other materials that were damaged or lost due to Hurricane Florence.
"I am excited about this generous donation from Google.org to go toward our relief efforts," Johnson said. "I have been inspired by all of the private and business support that has come in since we announced FAST NC in September. I thank Google.org and the many other companies and organizations that rose to the occasion to help these schools recover."
Former State Superintendent Mike Ward, who initially contacted Johnson with the idea of a bipartisan effort to help affected schools joined him at the announcement.
"The outpouring of help and support for these schools has been overwhelming to say the least," said Ward. "I hoped it would be something we could use to make a difference, but I am not sure I expected this level of support."
Johnson shared the news at College Road Early Childhood Center in Wilmington, which was one of the most heavily affected communities in the wake of the storm. Representatives from Google.org, Communities In Schools, and other corporate partners were also present.
In partnership with Communities In Schools of North Carolina, FAST NC is working to put crucial classroom materials such books, school supplies, technology and other resources back in the hands of teachers and students after much of it was destroyed by water damage from the hurricane. The funds will be used to fill the gaps not covered by insurance or state and federal resources.