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Posted by Heather Chirtea at 12:56:30 AM Wed 05/26/2021
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Sign up for the webinar series, which begins May 26th

May 26, 2021 -- COVID-19 revealed that access to the internet and computing devices is not equal across schools nationwide. Eleven million students lack internet connectivity at home and some schools are still closed due to the pandemic. This week the Delaware-based nonprofit Digital Wish is releasing “Solving the Digital Divide,” a webinar series that seeks to empower corporations and schools to close the gap in technology resources that keeps students disconnected from their education. The series educates schools on where the money is, how to get it, and what to do with it. It’s also a guide for corporations on replicating programs that allow them to easily give to those communities they care about the most. The episodes cover everything from how to set up a hot spot lending library, how to launch a corporate giving program in less than 48 hours and stories of how schools have integrated technology quickly and effectively, among other topics.

The release of the series comes when $7 billion in American Rescue Act funding has just passed in Congress. This is just one of the funds that’s been dedicated to closing the homework gap by covering the cost of laptops and hotspots for students. 

According to Heather Chirtea, executive director of Digital Wish, “We have an enormous challenge to spread the word right now -- that’s why this series is so important. Most schools we talk to don’t even know the $7 billion in funding is coming. The window to apply is likely to open in June right when schools get out, and run through the holiday when most educators are on vacation. We have a huge task to spread the word so that schools can prepare.”

For those that know the funding is coming, the race is on to get schools the money they need to reconnect students to their classwork and teachers. 

“Every day we don’t solve the digital divide for a student, is one day further behind that they fall,” said Don Benton, assistant commissioner at the Arkansas Department of Education, Research and Technology Division. “It’s a corporate problem for those businesses that need to hire them when they graduate. We have a moral obligation to fix this problem.” Benton, who hosts one of the webinars, will explain how to make a large purchase of hotspots, the requirements, tips and successes from the trenches. His team jumped on the problem of solving the digital divide from the state level almost as soon as the COVID pandemic hit. He was able to purchase approximately 20,000 hotspots from three different vendors. He also posted a Facebook tutorial page on instructional technology that got 25,000 followers in the first week. 

In addition to Benton, other hosts in the series include educators, principals, a librarian, Department of Education officials, technology and grant specialists. Digital Wish has teamed up with T-Mobile, Zoom, Funds for Learning, Connected Nation, corporate speakers, and many school and state institutions to put together the webinar series, which explain programs, funding and initiatives that are available to “Solve the Digital Divide.” Webinars will be accompanied by practical links, steps, programs and solutions. A video archive with shared links will be available after every episode to encourage schools to craft copycat programs.

Schedule - “Solving the Digital Divide” Webinars:

  • Wed, May 26 2:00 PM EST - District Technology Adoption Strategies

  • Fri, May 28, 11:00:00 AM EST - Identifying What Money is Available for EdTech Funding Right Now   

  • Tue., June 1, 11AM EST -  Libraries: Setting up a Technology Lending Program and Assessing the Need   

  • Tue., June 8, 3 PM EST - Connecting Every Student with $7 Billion in Funding

  • Thu., June 10, 12:30PM - Corporate Social Responsibility, Harnessing the Future Workforce

  • Tue., June 22, 10:30 AM EST - Funding On-Campus Connections with E-rate Support    

More webinars are posting daily.  For the complete schedule of episodes go to https://www.digitalwish.com/dw/digitalwish/webinars

About Digital Wish

Digital Wish staff work closely with hardware and software manufacturers to provide donated and discounted technology products to K-12 schools and higher education. Since COVID-19, Digital Wish has delivered thousands of hotspots to schools. In 2009 Digital Wish was founded based on a seed grant from Olympus, and within two years, grew that to $5.9M, allowing the nonprofit to aid more than 500,000 students. Digital Wish was also awarded an Obama stimulus grant for $1.125M dollars to implement 1:1 technology in 30 towns across Vermont, increasing student technology proficiency by 30%. With a membership of 68,000 technology educators, Digital Wish is able to offer free resources by partnering with internationally known technology names, including Motorola, Dell, Verizon, Microsoft and more. Visit www.digitalwish.org to learn more.

Digital Wish Media Contact:
Jennifer Miller, [email protected]
Digital Wish
PO Box 255
Milton, DE 19968

Tags: Digital Divide, Connect A Student, Webinars