The COVID 19 pandemic has caused major disruptions to all parts of everyday life and education has been especially impacted. Now with most schools and colleges moving to online classes it has meant that many disadvantaged students are missing out on their education.
Having access to a computer or laptop is essential. And the worrying thing is that many students with issues around homelessness or poverty are falling behind academically because of having limited or no access to computers.
This technology gap is known as the digital divide and is an issue causing major concern among educators and disadvantaged students alike. To help bridge this gap, Stanford students have set up a new non-profit organisation called Bridging Tech.
The initiative was started by two Stanford students Isabel Wang and Margot Bellon back in April 2020. They have already assembled a workforce of hundreds of volunteers and have partnered with many commercial organisations who have donated hundreds of computers to students residing in homeless shelters.
Originally dealing with students in the local Bay Area, the charity has expanded and is now operating in numerous states across the USA.
According to non-profit founders Isabel Wang and Margot Bellon, the digital divide is an issue affecting around 11 million children across the USA. Without access to computers, it means that these children cannot go to school at all and so are being seriously held back in their grades.
Bridging Tech is a growing operation that has required a huge effort from volunteers. The laptops first need to be collected from donors and then need to be wiped and updated by the volunteers. The laptops are then delivered to homeless shelters where they are given to the students who get to keep them permanently.
So far Bridging Tech has mainly focused on students in urban areas, but the non profit hopes to expand into rural areas whose needs may be greater. As Bellon points out,
“Students in cities tend to have more access to Wi-Fi and public libraries with computers in general, so we want to bridge this gap for students in more remote areas,”
Social inequality throughout the USA is at crisis level and with the pandemic now disproportionately hitting disadvantaged students the hardest, it means that this group has an even harder struggle to get out of poverty. Many students will have their life chances ruined because of their inability to access online education from their schools and colleges.
Stanford University has been extremely supportive of Bridging Tech. As Bellon says,
“One of the first things we did when founding this was reach out to alumni through the Stanford Alumni Mentoring Network. These alumni were some of our first supporters and mentors, and account for a large percentage of Bridging Tech’s donations.”
Bridging Tech is now trying to widen their support and gather new partnerships.
So anyone who wants to get involved either as a volunteer, donate a laptop or make a monetary donation should visit the website.
This fantastic cause is already making a difference to thousands of children’s lives but they cannot do it without your support.