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Digital Wish survey of frontline educators reveals double digit gaps in at-home connectivity and computing device access for K-12 students
Posted by Heather Chirtea at 03:45:02 PM Tue 04/28/2020

Nonprofit Digital Wish Supports Educators in Solving Education Technology Shortfalls

April 28, 2020, MILTON, Delaware – According to a new survey conducted by Digital Wish, 19% of students nationwide do not have internet connectivity at home and 21% do not own a computing device, impacting their ability to adequately participate in remote learning while schools are closed due to COVID-19. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is revealing the dramatic educational equity gap between the “haves” and “have nots,” and a mosaic of stories have emerged from the front lines. Since COVID-19 struck, nearly all schools have closed down nationwide. Based on the survey results, an estimated 10.6 million students lack Internet access and close to 12 million students lack a computing device, leaving them isolated and left behind from any effective distance learning. 

The survey data reveals a large disparity in the needs of school districts based on wealth and geography.  Rural and Urban schools are showing higher rates of disconnected students than suburban. Districts with higher participation in free or reduced lunch programs who often have higher minority representation, are more frequently fighting for devices and connectivity. One school administrator lamented “We have received an overwhelming number of phone calls and emails from parents asking for devices. Ninety percent of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch. We cannot continue education at home if we don't have devices and Internet for our lowest-income families.” 

Digital Wish has experienced dramatic increases in demand for both computing devices and hotspot donation with subsidized internet for schools. According to Executive Director Heather Chirtea, “We’ve seen more demand from educators for internet hotspots in the last 30 days than we’ve seen in the entire previous year”

In tandem, the majority of educators are facing the challenge of adapting to unfamiliar teaching paradigms. One survey respondent explained “Going completely digital is difficult with trying to train teachers on the various pieces of technology and web applications that can be used. Students are having a tough time trying to interact with PDF's that we are providing them with for work.”

The CARES Act included $13.5 billion for K-12 education, with distance learning one of many eligible uses. Heather Chirtea said: “Digital Wish believes that the CARES Act will not be enough to fully address the gaps in connectivity and computers identified by our survey. This nation needs dedicated educational technology funding that will equip those millions of displaced students with hotspots, connectivity, and computing devices so that they can continue their education.”  


Full survey results are available at: http://www.digitalwish.com/dw/digitalwish/covid_stimulus

Please contact Digital Wish if you need interviews or quotes with attribution.  We have educators who are willing to be interviewed. 

Contact: Heather Chirtea, Executive Director, Digital Wish, 802-379-3000, [email protected]

About Digital Wish

Digital Wish is a 501c-3 nonprofit on a mission to solve technology shortfalls in education. Every child deserves a technology-rich education to provide them with the skills necessary to thrive in the global economy. Digital Wish partners with technology providers to distribute free or reduced-cost educational technology such as refurbished laptops, tablets and internet “hotspots” to schools and teachers. Digital Wish manages a community of 64k educators in the US, assisting them with their technology needs through lesson plans, fundraiser campaigns for their “technology wishes” and access to affordable educational technology used in the classroom. Since its inception in 2006, Digital Wish has granted over 31,000 technology wishes to educators worth over $17 Million, and administered grants together with Verizon, Dell, Motorola, Henderson Foundation, and Microsoft. For more information, please visit www.digitalwish.org.


Digital Wish conducted an online survey from April 1 to 24, 2020 asking U.S. school administrators and technology educators on the front lines to report their data on student connectivity and to share their stories. All data is voluntarily self-reported by educational leaders who are contending with disruptive COVID-19 changes. In partnership with the analyst team at EducationSuperHighway.org we confirmed the validity of the data as follows:


- We confirmed the sample is representative.

- We cleaned the sample dataset.

- We confirmed the reasonableness for metrics collected.

For more information, see the “Survey Methodology” section here: http://www.digitalwish.com/dw/digitalwish/covid_stimulus

New Grant! - Mobile Beacon's Connect for Success Student Access Donation Program
Posted by Krysta Piccoli at 04:49:50 PM Wed 03/01/2017

Mobile Beacon Grant Opportunity Available for Schools

Mobile Beacon is now accepting applications for its Connect for Success grant. Mobile Beacon wants to provide a path for educators to help close the homework gap, so every student has equal access to educational resources and learning opportunities. Our Connect for Success grant will give education organizations the tools needed to harness the power of the internet and get it into the hands of those students who need it the most. Our Connect for Success grant provides schools with up to 25 laptops and 4G LTE hotspots with free 4G LTE high-speed Internet service for 12 months.

Grant applicants must be from a school, college, or university in an eligible city and fall within Sprint's 4G LTE service area. Because there are a limited number of grants available, Mobile Beacon wants to ensure the broadband service and associated equipment will be used by schools to fulfill an immediate need. Therefore, your school must use this service for 20 or more hours per week while school is in session. The deadline to apply is March 27, 2017.

Learn more and apply today! http://www.mobilebeacon.org/connect-for-success



magikarp jump

Mobile Internet Hotspot Lending Pools for Students
Posted by Krysta Piccoli at 04:26:19 PM Wed 03/01/2017

We're hearing great news from educators on how our donated wireless hotspots and Mobile Beacon’s discount $10/month unlimited 4G internet service help students get on the internet at home to do their schoolwork.  Like checking out a book in the library, students in need can borrow the devices for a day or two from their school.  Learn how you can start your own Pool and read comments from teachers at our Support page here:


New Digital Wish Grants Available
Posted by Gordon Woodrow at 04:30:59 PM Mon 02/27/2017

We have several new active Digital Wish GRANTS available for Digital Wish members. To apply, just submit an original lesson plan to our free shared Lesson Plan Library and you could be awarded one of the grants. Awards include document camera, modular robotics, digital citizenship turnkey curriculum packages and wi-fi mobile hotspots with a one year internet subscription to Mobile Beacon's unlimited 4G service plan. See the grants here:http://www.digitalwish.com/dw/digitalwish/dw_grant_calendar

Fall Grants Awarded!
Posted by Amanda Stevens at 06:13:30 PM Thu 03/24/2016



Digital Wish Grant Winners






Nicole Schichtel

Digital Citizenship for Middle School - November


Christina Bolden

Digital Discoveries with a Document Camera


Stacy Walther

Digital Citizenship and Cyber Safety - September


Tricia Frechette

Vocabulary and Humor for High School Students - September


Melyssa Thompson

Classroom Inclusion - Autism & Special Needs In the Real World



Summer Grant Recipients!
Posted by Amanda Stevens at 05:01:05 PM Tue 10/06/2015

Thank you all for your wonderful lesson plans.  Keep our library growing; contribute an interactive lesson plan for an opportunity to increase your Cash on Hand here at Digital Wish!

Digital Wish Grant Winners





Joy Washington

Vocabulary and Humor for High School Students - August


Kelly Cummings

Digital Citizenship and Cyber Safety - August


Linda Heuer

Let's Get Podcasting - August


Jamie Senese

Collaborative Writing and Debating - August


Annette Yono

Digital Citizenship for Middle School


Jodie Lujan

Digital Citizenship and Cyber Safety - June


Paula Schlueter

Matific - Math Apps: Immersive bite-sized apps for tablets and personal computers (May)


Brandi Bass

Mobile Devices in the Classroom - April


renee carr

Autism Awareness Month


Faiza Khalid

Matific - Math Apps: Immersive bite-sized apps for tablets and personal computers April




One to One Computing Support Grant - Apply for Summer 2015
Posted by Gordon Woodrow at 07:42:03 PM Fri 06/26/2015

One-to-One Computing, $4,500 Support Grant – APPLY NOW

Digital Wish is offering technical support grants to schools needing assistance with planning a one to one computing program in their elementary or middle schools. Our 1:1 experts will select schools to assist throughout the summer so don’t wait to apply. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis through the summer months – the most important time for preparing a 1:1 program.

Digital Wish has implemented 1:1 computing programs in 28 schools -developing expertise, evaluation tools and sustainability tools that can help get your program off the ground.  Our experts will work with your team to discuss your technology plan, equipment needs, budgeting and financing options, curriculum implementation, training, technical needs and longer-term sustainability planning.  You’ll come away with a solid budgeting and implementation plan, turnkey standards based IT curriculum and training, possible grant opportunities, financing options and an action plan for sustaining your program.

The grant award includes:

  • 10 hours of technical support to evaluate and help develop a 1:1 program ($2,000 value)
  • Sustainability Action Plan Tool ($99 value)
  • Video conference with one of our 1:1 trainers ($175 value)
  • Free grant search using GrantStation ($249 value)
  • Digital Wish’s Complete IT Curriculum Package (Grades 3-6) ($2,000 value)
  • Digital Citizenship for Middle Schools Curriculum ($299 value)
  • Discounts for on-site Digital Citizenship and Cyber Safety training.

Schools interested in starting a pilot 1:1 program are encouraged to apply.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.   Contact [email protected] for more information.

Dell Giving – School Modernization Initiative 2014-2015
Posted by Amanda Stevens at 05:28:05 PM Wed 06/03/2015

Nashua elementary students got a taste for careers in software and technology after a community partnership provided the funding and tools to help them design video games, create stop-animation shorts and write a podcast.

The training was organized through the Nashua School District’s partnership with Dell in Nashua and Digital Wish, a Vermont-based nonprofit company that supports technology in schools.

Read the full article at https://digitalwishes.wordpress.com/grants/dell-giving-school-modernization-initiative-2014-2015/

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