Ellen Degeneres, With Justin Bieber, Surprises Impoverished Detroit School with $500,000

Illustration for article titled Ellen Degeneres, With Justin Bieber, Surprises Impoverished Detroit School with $500,000

On Thursday, Ellen Degeneres appeared via video conference to the students and staff at Spain Elementary-Middle School in Detroit, a school beset by poor funding and abysmal conditions, to announce a surprise donation of $500,000.


“Many of the students are poor or homeless,” she said. “Almost all of their technology does not work, their entire roof is falling apart, their gym is completely shut down forcing their students to take PE in the hallways. Some of their students actually have to wear coats in the classrooms because there is no heat.”

“When I heard about this I knew that I wanted to help.”

After Detroit public school teachers staged a series of walk-outs to protest the conditions of their schools, Mayor Mike Duggan ordered inspections across the district. A health inspection report for Spain found a number of violations, including “mold growing under wood flooring in the gym, with possible diffusion of mold spores throughout the building was observed... Evidence of vermin infestation, including fecal matter and carcasses were observed in various rooms.”


In the video, Degeneres speaks with the principal and a few individual teachers, before presenting each teacher with a $100 Visa gift card, $50,000 worth of technology, $200,000 in labor, all courtesy of Lowes. Ultimately, Justin Bieber pops out of an object on stage and the two present the screaming students with a check for an additional $250,000. Degeneres also started a GoFundMe page with a $5 million goal. It is very moving.

Watch the video below.

Contact the author at joanna@jezebel.com.

Image courtesy of the Ellen Show.

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Does anyone else feel like this just a little like... poverty porn?

I’m glad this school got the funding they so desperately needed, but parading how poor and backwards the school is so a couple of celebrities can swoop in and save it is a bit uncomfortable.

The school is broke, the students are poor, they need help, but you don’t have to broadcast their circumstances on tv to make sure they are appropriately grateful to their saviors.