Ray Allen unveils computer lab at El Portal school

EL PORTAL, FLA. (WSVN) - Former Heat star Ray Allen is helping South Florida students as they prepare for their future.

The 10-time NBA All-Star and founder of the Ray of Hope Foundation unveiled a new computer lab at Horace Mann Middle School in El Portal, Thursday.

“We came to this school two years ago, and we saw they had many — 40 or 50 computers — and maybe two or three only worked,” Allen said. “I always believe that when the kids are given the proper tools to learn alongside the teachers, they really learn and they get inspired to learn.”

Allen provided 26 new computers and paid for new furniture at the middle school. He also renovated the computer lab room.

All students are welcome to use the computer lab whenever they may need to further their educational career.

“He understands the value of education. He believes in bringing culture, technology and opportunity to kids,” said Miami-Dade County Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “I am truly inspired that Ray and Shannon, through the Ray of Hope Foundation, decided to pick us. The digital divide needs to be erased. His investment, his presence are going a long way in terms of delivering high quality education for kids.”

For Allen, he said it’s all about providing the tools to help students succeed. “So many kids in our community are underserved, and we complain long-term, our kids aren’t adding up. They’re not doing the things that we need them to do in the community,” he said. “I think, in the beginning, we’re not doing enough to make sure they have the resources.”

A lot of students were wowed that Allen would actually be at their school and happy to see what he’s doing for them. “I was surprised, and I was happy to see that he was here and came to the school,” said seventh-grader Aaniya Gilbert. “I admire that.”

Eighth-grader Amir Brown said this gives the opportunity for everyone to work. “Now, we can actually learn more in a peaceful environment without having to fight over the computers,” he said.

“When they walk in this room, they’ll be inspired and motivated and know that people do care about them in their community,” Allen said.

Allen has branched out since officially retiring from the NBA in November. He recently was on an USO tour visiting the troops in Afghanistan and Turkey. Allen is also thinking about entering the world of politics.

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