Bridging the Digital Divide at a Critical Moment

Bridging the Digital Divide at a Critical Moment

Growing up in a family struggling to make ends meet, Dora Almeraz never had a computer as a child. With schools closed and lesson plans going online during the COVID-19 pandemic, Almeraz wanted to make sure her 9-year-old daughter didn’t suffer the same handicap.

Thanks to a $175,000 donation from the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund to Computers 2 Kids, a nonprofit battling to bridge the digital divide by providing laptops, tablets and desktops to thousands of youth each year, that’s not happening. Almeraz received a laptop from the nonprofit on April 20 and couldn’t be happier.

“This will make a tremendous difference in my daughter’s life,” said the 42-year-old single mom whose hours as a waitress have been decimated by the coronavirus crisis. “With the homeschooling and quarantine that’s in place, she’s now able to access the websites and lesson plans the school has set up. Its also boosted her confidence. She’s engaged with school and I can follow up to make sure she’s staying engaged.”

Established in 2004, Computers 2 Kids’ nine technicians restore and update computers donated by individuals and corporations with new hard drives and Windows operating systems and distribute them – along with one year of free technical support – to those on the other side of the digital divide for a minimal fee.

With so many schools and colleges transitioning to online classes, the need has skyrocketed; Computers 2 Kids is sifting through a growing list of more than 7,200 applications from local families and children. With the $175,000 donation from The San Diego Foundation-managed COVID-19 Community Response Fund, Computers 2 Kids hired 14 additional technicians and internet technology professionals to refurbish 20,000 computers on an accelerated basis. Technicians are working 10-hour days, six days per week, allowing the nonprofit to distribute between 50 and 300 computers daily from its Miramar headquarters and warehouse.

“We definitely have a digital disparity in San Diego County right now, and we are doing everything we can to get our families connected,” said President and CEO Cheri Pierre. “We’re seeing families with children at home from school trying to do their schoolwork who do not have access to a computer to get their assignments done, a problem that is especially pronounced with local libraries being closed.”

San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund

The San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund makes emergency grants and interest-free loans to nonprofits that are working on the frontlines to provide our region’s most vulnerable communities with assistance, such as food security, other essential living expenses, emergent needs, and rent and utility payment support.

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Dora Almeraz is a believer. “I can’t afford to buy my daughter a top-of-the-line Apple laptop, so Computers 2 Kids is invaluable,” said the San Diego resident who shares an apartment with another single mom and her 11-year-old daughter. “This is a great investment in our future.”

That’s how The San Diego Foundation feels. Its giving underscores how U.S. community foundations are helping those in need during the COVID-19 crisis, rallying to mobilize more than $630 million. To date, the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund has granted more than $5.1 million to San Diego nonprofits working on the frontline to support low-wage workers, families and vulnerable communities impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Emergency grants are made possible thanks to thousands of donations from donor-advised funds, businesses and individuals.

Join your fellow San Diegans and help families in need by donating today.

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