After promising in October to foot the bill for water filtration systems to make sure schools in Flint, Michigan have access to clean water, billionaire Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has come through with another gift for the city.
At a school board meeting on Wednesday night, an announcement was made that the Flint Community Schools district is getting more than $423,000 as a gift from the Elon Musk Foundation that will be used to buy Chromebooks for every middle school student in the district.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many seventh- and eighth-grade students that would cover, though there are more than 4,500 students in total in the district in grades K-12. The district has said the seventh- and eighth-grade students getting the new laptops will be able to take them home and use them as “instructional” tools.
This follows Elon’s donation of half a million dollars from October that was meant to go toward a filtration system in all 12 of the district’s schools, Flint being the city that in 2014 suffered a water quality crisis that politicians seemed ill-equipped to handle and which exposed tens of thousands of residents to lead-tainted water. The water systems in the schools are supposed to installed by the end of next month.
That came on the heels of Elon in July promising to help bring clean water to everyone in the city. For some additional context on the situation there, Fortune magazine notes that “The government has claimed that the drinking water in Flint is currently safe to drink; however, many residents have claimed that is not the case.”
A cynic will certainly note that this is a good way for Elon to take some of the heat off himself that he’s generated through one self-inflicted wound after another this year — everything from getting in trouble with regulators to appearing to smoke pot, plus this year’s countless bizarre tweets and the spate of unusual interviews he’s granted to reporters.
Nevertheless, this is a worthwhile gift that will for sure benefit students who can put it to good use. Elon’s foundation, which is where the donation is coming from, was set up in the early 2000s with his brother Kimbal and hands out grants to support causes that include renewable energy research and advocacy as well as science and engineering education, to name a few examples.