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Tech Data commits $500,000 to close the digital divide for schoolchildren

Margie Manning



Photo credit: PCs for People

Twenty-one local and national organizations are the beneficiaries of the largest ever investment in nonprofits by Tech Data.

The Clearwater-based IT distributor committed $500,000 to address digital equity in education in a campaign called Giving Back To School.

Among the local recipients of funding from the campaign are the Pinellas Education Foundation, the Hillsborough Education Foundation, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast, Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, Academy Prep of St. Petersburg and Academy Prep of Tampa.

Grants also were awarded to national nonprofits that provide refurbished technology such as laptops, desktops and tablets to those in need. National recipients included Human-I-T and PCs for People.

The initiative comes as students, teachers and families face unprecedented challenges this school year due to Covid-19, including inadequate access to technology for virtual learning, Tech Data CEO Rich Hume said in a blog announcing the launch of the program.

Rich Hume, CEO, Tech Data

“As a leader in both our industry and within our communities, Tech Data recognized that this moment was our opportunity — and truly our responsibility — to address this digital divide in education across the U.S.,” Hume wrote.

Previously Tech Data workers at offices across the country participated in annual on-site backpack and school supply drives. Social distancing and sanitizing procedures made that nearly impossible this year, so Tech Data offered new ways for workers to help out families in need.

Workers cast their votes for local and national nonprofits they supported, assembled virtual fundraising teams to compete for matching dollars from the company for additional causes, and took part in contactless school supply and technology drives in their own neighborhoods.

Tech Data allocated an additional $50,000 to match personal fundraising efforts, Hume said.

Tech Data plans to spotlight some of the nonprofit recipients in upcoming blog posts.

Closer look

Due to Covid-19 school facility closures, 50 million K-12 public school students have had to learn remotely from home, according to a report developed by  Boston Consulting Group in partnership with Common Sense, a national nonprofit focused on children.

About 30 percent of those students, or 15 million to 16 million children, lack adequate internet or devices to sustain effective learning from home, and 9 million of them lack both internet and devices, the report said. The digital divide is a major problem for students in all 50 states and all types of communities but is most pronounced in rural communities and households with Black, Latinx and Native American students, the report said.

In Florida, 28 percent of K-12 students lack an adequate internet connection and 19 percent of students lack an adequate device, the report said.

Closing the gap would require Congress to invest between $6 billion and $11 billion in the first year.


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