NEW YORK CITY -- "Live with Kelly and Ryan" host Kelly Ripa and husband Mark Consuelos have donated half a million dollars to Win, the largest provider of shelter and services to homeless mothers and their children in New York City, to help homeless families cope with the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Win houses 10% of all the homeless families in New York City every night, and the donation will help ensure that homeless children have every technology need met so they can excel in these times of virtual learning.
"Learning remotely under the best of circumstances is very challenging," Ripa and Conseulos said in a statement. "Without the proper technology, it is simply impossible."
The money allows Win to purchase iPads and laptops for hundreds of young people who, although schools closed weeks ago, still have not received devices from the city.
This includes students living in supportive housing (permanent, affordable housing with wrap-around services for formerly homeless women and their children), students who were forced to leave their college campuses and return to shelter, and high school seniors who will need laptops when they begin college in the fall.
"Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos' amazing gift sends a powerful message to homeless students, that they are seen and have not been forgotten," Win President and CEO Christine Quinn said.
Ripa and Consuelos' contribution will also provide for headphones, which are critical to helping students focus as many are learning in the same room as their siblings, as well as Hot Spot service and Jetpacks to help students get online.
New York City shelters do not have WiFi, so connected devices and internet hotspots are the only way that students can access remote learning.
Quinn says that although this donation goes a long way to helping Win students, more support is essential to ensuring that children stay safe, entertained, and connected as social distancing stretches through the summer.
Win is seeking additional funding to purchase fun and educational games, toys, and art materials, create alternative internship opportunities for students who will no longer have a summer job through the City's Student Youth Employment Program (SYEP), and offer engaging programs like virtual story time and journaling to children, among many other immediate needs.
"It's incredibly difficult to be a student in shelter under normal circumstances," Quinn said. "Now, COVID-19 has exacerbated the many challenges homeless students already face, putting them at risk of falling further behind their peers. On top of everything else, our kids shouldn't have to worry about how to get the technology they need for remote learning. And now, thanks to Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, they don't have to."
In addition to purchasing technology, Ripa and Consuelos also designated funds for a Win Scholarship Fund to help open the door to college for Win students. The Fund will cover the costs of college tuition that are often not met through financial aid, including books and transportation.
Win operates 10 family shelters and three supportive housing facilities across New York City. In the past year, Win served nearly 10,000 homeless people - including more than 5,400 children - helping them to break the cycle of homelessness.