Laptops and other resources are provided directly to students by a New York parent

Laptops and other resources are provided directly to students by a New York parent

Tech Highlights:

  • “We’ll have to work for years and years to eliminate all of the disparities in our school system,” Grant, a mother of three, says, “but with a pandemic going on, our children need resources right now.” This was felt most strongly in New York City, which has the country’s biggest school district, servicing more than 1.1 million kids in 1,800 schools. “As someone who grew up with no family, I understand how difficult it is for parents to raise their children and cope with the educational system on their own.”

  • If there’s one notion that keeps Tanesha Grant, a Harlem-based community activist, going, it’s that over two years into the epidemic, not only do children in New York City’s public school system need aid, but so do their parents.

She started nonprofit alliance Parents Supporting Parents NYC (PSP), and made it her mission to help as many parents as she could emotionally and financially. Sometimes this means paying electricity bills and past-due rent. Other times it means forging partnerships, like one with HP, that will help students get the technology they need to keep from being left behind academically.

At a PSP event last summer at P.C. Richard & Sons in Harlem, the tears were flowing — both from grateful and relieved parents and overwhelmed kids. Ishmila, 13, a 9th grader at A. Philip Randolph received a laptop, printer, and paper. “It’s going to help me do homework because I don’t really have electronics to do my homework on, and if I need to print anything, I can, with paper,” she said. “My sister told me that it’s good to have your own computer.”

PSP recently teamed with the newly launched HP Partnership and Technology for Humanity initiative (PATH), part of the company’s goal to accelerate digital equity for 150 million people by 2030, to host laptop giveaways and fundraising events in the communities that need them most. So far, HP has donated more than 400 laptops and printers, computer supplies, and skill-building materials to students in grade school up through college.

Similar partnerships have made a difference in cities across the country. In Washington, DC, where more than 20,000 children are without internet access, Digital Equity in DC Education coalition is pushing for computers for every student and teacher, reliable internet connectivity in schools and homes, and digital literacy education integrated into the curriculum.

“It’s empowering to know there are people who have never met you but think of you enough to give you a new laptop,” Grant says. “Most of the laptop recipients have never had their own. It tells them they are good enough to receive the best when the system that provides their education, at every turn, tells them they aren’t.”

While the number of one-to-one schools where every student has access to a device is steadily growing, many students also lack access to a dedicated computer at home to do their schoolwork on. Some have to share a single device with their family, or must use a smartphone to access the internet. That’s if they have access to the internet at all: Fewer than half of US school districts meet bandwidth goals established by the FCC and an estimated two million K-12 students still aren’t adequately connected to learn from home.

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