With the help of Lowe’s and Justin Bieber, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has put together a massive donation package that will go toward making much-needed repairs at a struggling school in Detroit.
The talk show host has partnered with singer Justin Bieber and home improvement store Lowe’s, who is making the bulk of the donation, to offer the school $500,000 to help make the repairs.
Students and staff members stayed late after school under the false pretense that they would be participating in a documentary for the Ellen DeGeneres Show on the problems that Detroit Public Schools are going through. Instead, they received a check.
“Of all the people in the whole world. I am the happiest principal on Earth. I love you. We love you,” said Spain principal Ronald Alexander.
Part of the Detroit Public Schools system, Spain Elementary-Middle School has been at the center of discussions lately over increasingly deplorable school conditions. Last month a city inspection of the building was performed at the request of teachers who wanted Detroit’s mayor to see just how bad the situation was. Findings included mold growing underneath the gym floor boards, as well as the possibility of mold spores throughout the building. A vermin infestation was discovered alongside fecal matter and carcasses.
The conditions found at Spain and other schools have caused a number of protests, a federal lawsuit, and discussions in Lansing over a proposal that would result in the state paying off the more than $500 million it currently holds in school district debt.
DeGeneres presented the check via video feed to children and staff at the school, saying she wanted to help that school in particular because many of its students are underprivileged and homeless. She also mentioned the conditions at the school, including a heating system that is out of order, out of date textbooks, technology that does not work, a roof that is falling down and a gym that is not open for student use, writes Justin Enriquez for The Daily Mail.
She gave special recognition to the teachers who she said often go out of their way to donate their own time and money to purchase supplies to support instruction at the school. She went on to say that Lowe’s will be giving each staff member a gift card worth $100.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up for the school by DeGeneres. Since its creation earlier this week the page has already raised over $15,000.
Bieber surprised students by coming out after Ellen’s announcement and adding that $1 of each ticket sold for an upcoming concert at The Palace of Auburn Hills in April will be donated to the school.
“When I heard about (the conditions at Spain), I knew I had to help,” DeGeneres said in a video taped Wednesday and posted to her website. DeGeneres contacted Lowe’s, said spokeswoman Jenny Popis, because “we knew we could make a difference.”
It’s not the first time the talk show host has offered money to schools in the area. In 2014, she gave $50,000 to a Detroit charter school after its choir created a viral video.