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Highlands, Union Beach Get Sandy Funding From UAE

The United Arab Emirates donated $4.5 million to repair and enhance communications infrastructure at 30 public schools impacted by Sandy.

Highlands, Union Beach Get Sandy Funding From UAE

Highlands Elementary and Union Beach Memorial schools will benefit from a $4.5 million grant given by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund to repair schools damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

Gov. Chris Christie, First Lady Mary Pat Christie and the United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States met at Highlands Elementary School Monday to announce the funding.

The donation will help rebuild and repair technological infrastructure at 30 public schools in nine New Jersey school districts that were significantly impacted by Hurricane Sandy, including Highlands Elementary and Union Beach Memorial.

"The entire world was touched by the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy last year. Given the scope of this disaster, we felt it was important to provide assistance," said Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the United States. "This program will be a small piece to help dozens of schools and thousands of kids around New Jersey by repairing and upgrading schools that were hit by the storm."

The funding will help address technology needs such as infrastructure construction to increase Internet bandwidth capacity, wiring and hardware for instructional areas, acquisition of mobile computing devices for faculty and students, and additional training for teachers and administrators.

Superstorm Sandy caused more than $40 million in damages to New Jersey schools, Gov. Chris Christie said.

“While our state has made great strides to re-open our schools, this donation will undoubtedly relieve some of the burden placed on New Jersey's hardest hit towns and help enhance our students' use of technology as they enjoy a normal return to school this fall," Gov. Chris Christie said.

Approximately 20,000 students will benefit from the improvements that will be made as a result of the funding, a news release from the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund said. The funding will actually help schools exceed pre-Sandy conditions and implement the Common Core State Standards established by the state’s Board of Education and Department of Education.

First Lady Mary Pat Christie, chair of the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, said the fund is “extremely grateful” for the donation.

Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) applauded the UAE for its donation.

“Our school communities worked hard this year to keep students safe and to reopen classrooms after the state’s worst storm,” Kyrillos said. “The effort to restore our schools has been costly, making these grants a needed relief to districts and residents where school repair and work to protect against future damage has cost millions.

“The generosity that’s been shown to our students and communities from so many people outside New Jersey and again today by those from the United Arab Emirates is humbling and greatly appreciated,” Kyrillos added. “The grants show that with the help of others and the determination of residents and communities we can again make our schools and neighborhoods thrive.”

Schools in Belmar, Brick, Hoboken, Little Ferry, Moonachie, Sayreville and Seaside Heights will also benefit from the grant.

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