900 Chromebooks going to local students to help bridge digital divide

The Dayton Foundation awards $70K grant to Learn to Earn Dayton

A new grant will pay for 900 Chromebooks to begin an effort to help thousands of Dayton-area students who lack devices or internet connectivity prepare for a school year increasingly pushed online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

To reduce digital inequity intensified by the pandemic, The Dayton Foundation awarded a $70,000 grant to Learn to Earn Dayton to purchase the devices for schools in the Dayton, Jefferson, Northridge and Trotwood-Madison districts.

“Remote learning is the new normal in education, and the divide in schools between who has access and who doesn’t is getting worse,” said Thomas Lasley, Learn to Earn Dayton CEO. “If we’re going to be able to solve the challenges of remote learning associated with COVID-19, then access to connectivity, quality remote educational opportunities and devices must be addressed.”

Just a quarter of students in high-poverty households access remote learning once a week or less. By contrast, 83 percent of students in families with incomes of $100,000 or more are engaged in remote experiences every day, according to Lasley.

The purchase is the first of a three-phase connectivity plan to help students in lower-income districts bridge the digital divide. Subsequent phases will focus on access to connectivity, improving remote learning experiences and maintaining devices.

The overall effort exceeds $300,000 to date, according to The Dayton Foundation in a news release.

The foundation’s grant joins with others from Mathile Family Foundation, The Frank M. Tait Foundation, The Charles D. Berry Foundation, The Berry Family Foundation, Louise Kramer Foundation and the COVID-19 Response Fund for Greater Dayton established by The Dayton Foundation and United Way of the Greater Dayton Area.

“In order for students to be successful in today’s connected environment, they need the devices to do their schoolwork remotely,” said Barbra Stonerock, The Dayton Foundation’s vice president of community engagement. “We see this award as an investment in the future of our community’s students and leveling the opportunities for low-income families.”

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