NEW ORLEANS — Comp-U-Dopt, a nonprofit with a mission to provide technology access and education, has allocated 110 free reconditioned computers for under-served youth through a partnership with the City of New Orleans, JP Morgan Chase, Repurpose, United Teachers of New Orleans, and First Grace United Methodist Church.
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically shifted the education landscape and pushed school districts to scramble to implement online and distance learning opportunities as campuses remained closed. Yet, a significant portion of the student population still aren’t able to access online tools simply because they don’t have a computer at home.
“Mayor Cantrell consistently puts equity at the forefront of all of the work we do to improve the lives of our residents, and we see this particularly vital when it comes to digital equity. This pandemic amplifies the need for equitable access, particularly as so many of our residents are challenged to adapt to distance learning. We want to thank all of our local and national partners for working together to provide our kids with the support they need and deserve to thrive this school year and beyond,” said Kimberly W. LaGrue, Chief Information Officer, City of New Orleans.
“This is a solvable problem and it is critical that we continue to invest in initiatives that support giving students and families the tools they need to access additional resources,” says Megan Steckly, CEO for Comp-U-Dopt. “Partnerships like this demonstrate how solvable this issue really is for the community.”
According to the Pew Research Institute, 46 percent of low-income families lack access to a computer at home and census data points to approximately 13 million families across the United States facing the same challenge. With supply chain delays and the global demand for devices at an all-time high, Comp-U-Dopt’s approach is one of the most efficient and only real viable methods of closing the gap for low-income students.
“There is a huge technological divide for children, and this pandemic has made that divide a chasm for low income and poor children,” said, Pastor Shawn Moses of First Grace United Methodist Church. “Giving these children access to refurbished computers gives them access “to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” First Grace United Methodist Church is supporting the project by providing a distribution site.
The 110 families served at this distribution had registered for the program and were selected by a lottery. Comp-U-Dopt has used this system to distribute more than 15,000 new or refurbished computers across their sites nationally to students without access to a device at home over the past four months. Additional lotteries are anticipated. Parents can register for additional lotteries at www.compudopt.org/nola.
“This school year it is critical that every student has the opportunity to have a high-quality education from their homes until they feel safe to return to school buildings. The United Teachers of New Orleans launched Repurpose earlier this month to help address the technology gap for students in New Orleans. We are excited for our new partnership with Comp-U-Dopt to increase capacity — as always we are stronger together!” said Wanda Richard, UTNO President.
Comp-U-Dopt pulls lottery registrants randomly in advance of a distribution based on the inventory they have available, selected families then RSVP for a date and time to pick up their computer at one of their distribution sites. Social distancing and safety protocols are maintained, and the device is placed in the family’s vehicle. Funded by JP Morgan Chase, the computers are given to families free of charge; Comp-U-Dopt also provides information on free and low-cost Internet options that match family’s specific needs.
About 83 percent of computer recipients are living in households earning less than $50,000 annually with an average family size greater than four people.
Comp-U-Dopt is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2007 with a mission to provide technology access and education to under-served youth. To date they have distributed more than 27,000 devices to students in need and delivered over 100,000 hours of technology education.
They have programs in Chicago, Covington, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, Galveston, Houston, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. www.compudopt.org.