Seven months after Leno first offered to help put a tablet in the hands of every student, the Minister of Education and Leno’s founder today declared “amazing success,” thanking donors and winding up the campaign that helped to deliver a tablet or learning device to every student in need.
“This is an historic day, marking a milestone that only a little over six months ago seemed an almost impossible goal, equipping every student in The Bahamas who needed one with a learning device to enable them to participate in virtual learning,” said Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd.
The minister was speaking at a press conference called this morning at the Ministry of Education to recognize donors and partners who contributed to the Leno Learning Link campaign.
“We could not have done this alone, but thanks to Leno which spearheaded the Leno Learning Link, thanks to all the partners like ALIV and The Tribune, and the many corporate and individual donors who contributed, we can finally say, we did it. I want to thank everyone who donated to this absolutely essential tool in the current learning kit and offer special thanks to Sean Longley, Dianne Bingham and all the team at Leno who poured their energy and resources into enriching the education process during the most challenging times we have ever faced in this Ministry.”
Leno kicked off the Leno Learning Link campaign in September 2020 after learning schools would not re-open for in-person learning as the country battled to control the spread of COVID-19.
Founder and CEO of the leading financial services firm, Sean K. Longley, explained the inspiration.
“Leno opened its doors in July 2010 and we have been so fortunate to enjoy the success we have in such a short period of time,” said Longley. “Under normal circumstances, we would have celebrated that teamwork and success, but with the pandemic conditions affecting us all, a celebration was unthinkable.”
Instead, he said, Leno wanted to pitch in and find a solution that would assist amidst the unforeseen turn of events.
“The whole education system was thrown into a state of near-crisis with schools closed and suddenly 60,000+ plus students unable to attend class,” Longley explained. “While many would have access to computers or tablets, there were tens of thousands of others who could be left behind, struggling with lessons through a cell phone or even sharing a cell phone with others in the household. We heard of one little boy who was borrowing his Grammy’s cell phone when she would let him and he was trying so hard to keep up. It was heartbreaking and we knew we had to do something to help.”
Leno created the campaign, launched the Leno Foundation through which all charitable donations now go, and kicked of the Leno Learning Link with a $60,000 donation.
Since then, ALIV came onboard as a partner, providing tablets and connectivity at a reduced cost. The Tribune donated thousands of dollars of radio air time and print ad space to help raise funds. Others who donated through the Leno Foundation included Antique Auto Club, Bamboo Shack, Baycourt Law Chambers, Bethel Bros. Morticians, Boys Brigade, Citi (in conjunction with International Organization for Migration), Colours Junkanoo Group, Cricket Club, Geoff Andrews, Government High School Class of 1975, Greta Brown, Insurance Commission of The Bahamas, Island Corporate Holdings (H.E. Frank Crothers), Island Pay, The Myers Group (Restaurants Bahamas) Run for Pompey, Thelma Gibson Primary School and Trinity Methodist Church.
Numerous other donations were made directly to the Ministry of Education or ALIV, helping to put the number of tablets delivered over the top.
Leno Trust Managing Director Dianne Bingham continued, “When we took on this goal of a tablet in the hands of every student, it seemed an insurmountable task, but we truly believed that this, which is at the heart of our community and our country, is something that we could support and get support for — and sure enough the institutions came forward, the companies came forward, schools came forward and here we are today with a blended environment and more students than ever prepared to learn in ways that were not available to them before.”
According to education officials, some devices delivered to schools still have not been collected.
“It is heartwarming to have such a tremendously dedicated visionary corporate partner as Leno,” said the education minister. “Virtual learning is here to stay. We are going to continue to utilize technology, online learning as means of delivering the educational instruction for the benefit of our children. In fact, because of technology, we have been able to provide equitable access to education for many of those children in the southern islands.”