2. AHA’s Mission: Ensuring Digital Equity for Students in Appalachia
The digital divide in education is a real and pressing issue in our modern society. It refers to the disparity between those with access to digital technology, such as computers and the internet, and those without. This equates to roughly 2.2 billion youth under 25 years of age who don’t have access to the internet in their homes worldwide. This gap is particularly pronounced in rural communities, where access to technology and resources is often limited. Appalachia is one such region that experiences the digital divide. Poverty, isolation, and the rugged landscape have made it difficult for many families to provide their children with the tools they need to succeed in school and beyond.
For students in Appalachia, the digital divide can significantly impact their education. Without access to computers and the internet, students are at a disadvantage when it comes to completing homework assignments, researching topics for papers, and staying in touch with their teachers and peers. In addition, the digital divide can also exacerbate existing inequalities, particularly those related to income and geography.
Americans Helping Americans® Leads the Charge
For years, Americans Helping Americans® has been working to bridge the digital divide in Appalachia, specifically in the rural community of Beattyville, Kentucky. By providing elementary, middle, and high school students with computers who cannot afford them, we have enabled them to keep up with their classmates on homework and online research projects at home. This is a huge benefit for students who find themselves struggling to get work done on their own.
Partnerships Expand Reach
Recently, we have partnered with the nonprofit organization Laptops 4 Learning (L4L) to provide others with the ability to acquire laptops for themselves. L4L is a nonprofit organization based in Phoenix, Arizona, that refurbishes used computers and delivers them to children and veterans in need. Through our partnership with L4L, we have been able to expand our efforts to provide laptops. With a $7,000 grant from Americans Helping Americans®, L4L was able to award laptops to various people in need.
Making a Difference Beyond Appalachia
Through this partnership, we were able to help a single mother of three who had enrolled in a nursing program. She could only afford to pay for a laptop for her schooling. However, through L4L, her children also received laptops. This enabled them to keep up with their schoolwork and access the same resources as their peers.
But, perhaps most significantly, L4L was able to use the remaining funding from the Americans Helping Americans® grant, along with funding received from AZ Women’s Partnership, to provide 100 students at Wrightson Ridge Elementary, a Title 1 school in Sahuarita, Arizona, with their very own laptops. These recipients were struggling and falling behind because they had access to a laptop at school but did not have one at home. This is known as the “homework gap.”
The Homework Gap
The homework gap is a serious issue for students who do not have access to the same resources as their peers. Without a computer or access to the internet, these students will miss out on vital classroom experiences. After all, homework is an essential component of learning. Without the ability to research topics for required studies or access online school resources, these students are falling behind in regard to their peers through no fault of their own. However, with the laptops provided by Americans Helping Americans® and L4L, these students can bridge the homework gap and have the same opportunities for success as their classmates.
We’re Not Done Yet
Closing the digital divide in education will require a concerted effort from individuals, organizations, and governments at all levels. Americans Helping Americans® and Laptops 4 Learning are doing their part to bridge the gap by providing laptops to students in need. However, we still have much work to do. By continuing to support our efforts and advocating for greater access to digital technology, we can help ensure that all students have the tools they need to thrive in the 21st century.
So if you’re passionate about ensuring access to education for all students, consider joining Americans Helping Americans®. You can help in their mission to bridge the digital divide. Your donation can make a meaningful difference in the lives of children living in poverty and struggling in their academic pursuits. With your support, Americans Helping Americans® can continue to provide laptops to students, therefore ensuring they have equal opportunities to excel in their studies. Donate today and support the future of these promising young students. Remember, every little bit helps bridge the digital divide in education!