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COVID-19 “Digital Divide” Effort for Hillsborough County Students

Computer Mentors Group (CMG) has teamed up with eSmart Recycling, Quicksilver Recycling, and Wells Fargo to bridge the digital divide for 100 families in Hillsborough County. Due to COVID-19, public and private education has moved to virtual online platforms. The assumptions are that all children have access to technology including a computer and Internet. But for an estimated 12% of children in Hillsborough County (or roughly 22,000 children), that assumption is not true. “The (Hillsborough County) School District has done a wonderful job of lending 26,000 computers to families that need them” said Ralph Smith, Director and founder of Computer Mentors. “But there is still a gap of families that have multiple school aged children because the school district was only able to provide one computer per family”.

Since social distancing has taken hold, it is essential that every school aged child have access to a computer and the Internet to be able to participate in the education system. That’s where the initiative led by Computer Mentors, eSmart Recycling and Quick Recycling come in. The group, helped by a $7,500 Wells Fargo grant, will donate 100 computers to Hillsborough County Public Schools to make available to families that have multiple school aged children within selected schools.

The 100 computer units include a desktop computer with monitor, keyboard, and mouse. They can be requested the through the Computer Mentors website at computermentors.org/COVID-19-computers. The selected schools are: Dowdell Middle School, Edison Elementary, Foster Elementary, James Elementary, Potter Elementary, and Tampa Bay Blvd. Elementary. In addition, children of several other organizations will benefit from this initiative including Enterprising Latinas, RCS Pinellas, Tampa YMCA, and Women Redeemed By God.

Wells Fargo is targeting its philanthropic efforts to support COVID-19 initiatives in local communities and has supported Computer Mentors Group for almost 10 consecutive years. Check out additional stories about Wells Fargo’s COVD-19 response.

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Computer Mentors Group is a “Digital Divide” non-profit organization with a mission of providing opportunities for educational and employment success through bridging the technology divide for populations without sufficient economic resources, especially as it relates to children and youth. The organization hosts two primary programs. They include TEENtech, a program for high school aged students. TEENtech assists students to pursue industry standard certifications that also lead to college credits. The goal of this program is to prepare the next generation of Information Technology/Computer Science professionals. The 2nd program is called KidsCode. KidsCode introduces computer coding to 4th through 8th grade students in a fun and engaging gamified platform. Both programs are actively recruiting and are instructor-led virtual training courses. For more information or to enroll, please visit the website at computermentors.org.

Along with it’s recycling partners, Computer Mentors is happy to collect your no longer needed electronic equipment. This includes flat panel monitors, computers, laptops, cell phones and the like. For corporate partners, pickup can be arranged. Please come join our other great partners including City of Tampa and Supervisor of Elections who allow us to find 2nd homes for computer supplies to benefit the community. Contact us via email at RSmith@computermentors.org or via phone at (813) 236-1191.

 

eSmart Recycling is a social enterprise founded by Tony Selvaggio in 2014. The company’s main goal is to recycle old technology from companies and individuals and use the proceeds to fund tech labs for kids without access to computers worldwide. For more information visit www.esmartrecycling.com or follow the company in social media @esmartrecycling #techforthekids  

 

Quicksilver Recycling was founded by John and Jack Flaacke in 1998. Quicksilver offers an excellent record of 20 years of experience & proven ability, secure data destruction, and regulatory and industry compliance standards. Quicksilver is also a long-term partner with Computer Mentors Groups and continues to host equipment donation events on CMG’s behalf.