Closing the Digital Divide for Washoe County Students
Originally published on KTVN Channel 2 News.
Have a used laptop that you can donate? There’s a critical need for them now that school’s about to start…
The call for help is front and center on the Education Alliance of Washoe County website. It’s an alarming number: 11,000 students are without a working laptop at their home for distance learning, and that’s in Washoe County alone. Executive Director Kendall Inskip says that number was higher: “We launched this, it was 16,000. Now it’s 11,000 because they inventoried what can be issued through the schools.”
Just numbers. But for Kendall, there’s a story behind each one…like a certain 12-year old: “This student, this middle-schooler showed his phone to our board member, and the child said, ‘Look, I’m doing my homework on my phone. Trying to do their homework, and essay on their phone. It’s mind-blowing really.”
Kendall and her group are trying to fill a void. One thing the pandemic did was bring to light the problem that the digital divide poses for so many families, those that have this kind of equipment and those who don’t. Equipment that is necessary now to learn: This way a student can connect with a teacher during regular class hours. Attendance will be taken. There will be the opportunity of sharing of materials.”
This year, both classroom and learning at home is a “go” in Washoe County. For many students, a computer and good internet are critically needed, and an expensive roadblock. WiFi and internet hotspots have already been purchased by grants, but your old laptop or desktop is needed. Early donations are already stacked up in a collection room, which itself is donated by ITS Logistics in sparks. They’ll all be refurbished with hard drives wiped clean to give them a good second life.
At the end of the school year, the laptops stay with the schools. Kendall told me, “So after school is over, the computer comes back to the district and they can issue it.”
Your old laptop may enjoy the greatest purpose it has ever had…as a tool to challenge several young minds. So, have a laptop you’re not using? Gently used laptops and desktops can be dropped off at ITS Logistics, 555 Vista Boulevard in Sparks, Monday through Friday from 11am to 2pm.
They take cash donations too to buy new HP laptops for students. To donate those, click here.
Additional coverage from Northern Nevada Business Weekly:
A group of community and business leaders on Aug. 13 launched a fundraiser to ensure Washoe County students have access to a laptop computer to enable distance learning.
Businesses are being asked to sponsor computers for individual schools — or classrooms in individual schools, including the public charter schools overseen by the Washoe County School District.
The private nonprofit Education Alliance of Washoe County estimates that more than 7,000 Washoe County students were in need of a computer as of mid-August.