Eliminate Technology Poverty: COVID-19 is Exacerbating The Digital Divide: #help.powerup.org

Let's Get To Work, Together! #PowerUp #EliminateTechnologyPovertyOur recent situation with COVID-19 has taught us that “Technology Poverty” is a real thing and we need your help to bridge the digital divide.

“Technology is not a luxury, it’s a necessity!” #help.powerup.org

Even before COVID-19 there has always been a gap between the haves and the have nots. Access to technology in communities is most closely connected to poverty. Progress is determined by the ability to raise all boats. With the integration of technology access as a necessity, you provide more access to a better way of life.

“COVID-19 is exacerbating the digital divide.” #help.powerup.org

More than 40,000 Corpus Christi students have had their schools closed due to COVID-19. Many of them don’t have the tools they need for remote learning.

With necessary social distancing, Corpus Christi school districts have closed in response to concerns about the coronavirus. School districts and educators are working diligently to transition to remote learning so students don’t fall behind. My husband Denis is an instructional technologist for the school district and his role is more crucial now than ever before.

But here is the problem: according to the census, approximately 20% of Corpus Christi’s school-age children don’t have internet access or a device at home.

Since 2007, at help.powerup.org we have been working diligently, partnering with organizations all over the world to bridge the digital divide.

Technology changed the way the world works and we need to make sure our children have the skills to compete in this new global economy. Every single child deserves the opportunity to succeed in this 21st century.

“This is bigger than COVID-19.” #help.powerup.org

Did you know that 62% of our students in Corpus Christi are considered economically disadvantaged and research tells us that children from poverty do not arrive at the starting age of school at the same level of readiness as their more affluent counterparts? COVID-19 shed light on the urgency of providing students with long term access to the devices they need to further their education. These students require internet and laptops in order to advance to the next grade level, graduate high school, and complete college applications.

Our mission is to ensure that all individuals—especially those at risk of being left behind—have the resources and the opportunities they need to live healthily and lead productive lives.

Lack of access to technology introduces new hurdles that make it harder for many children to get ahead. For too many children—particularly those from low-income families—regular Internet access is out of reach. Without regular exposure to technology, kids are unable to develop the digital literacy skills they need to compete and excel in a 21st-century economy. Basic computer skills are as critical today as reading and math. Without those skills, children find themselves at a great disadvantage that limits their academic success, future job prospects and earning potential.

Today, I hope to give you a snapshot of how we can increase our community success during the “Window of Opportunity’.

Children have an advantage over the rest of us. They have a rapidly developing brain. This allows them to effortlessly learn and absorb mass amounts of information, all before their 5th birthday. The experts refer to this period of intense brain development as a “Critical Period” or a “Window of Opportunity”. That simply means that during this period of time, it is considered the ideal time to introduce certain things. Skills, such as learning to read, are acquired with the least amount of effort during these periods.

About Little Texas Techies Programs: www.texastechies.org

Little Texas Techies was created for one singular reason: To give the children in Corpus Christi a strong start in school readiness. My son Zaleik continues to amaze me every day. He was the inspiration for Little Texas Techies. This little boy could turn on a computer, enter his password for his user profile, type his first name and last name. He would open his Little Texas Techies computer programs every day after school and insist on doing what he called his super homework on the computer. He could drag and drop, use keyboard shortcuts and shut down the computer. All by himself. Zaleik did all these things when he was 3 years old. When he was in Pre-k3 he was quickly moved along to be in pre-k4 because he was getting bored in class. When others were learning the alphabet, Zaleik was reading first-grade level books. All this success with the use of a simple tool called a computer. Zaleik is now 11 years old and recently won the CCISD multimedia fair with a first-place award for the best video game designed. There were over 250 entries from all over the local area.

Little Texas Techies provides a rich, totally fun and interactive stimulating learning environment. Our target audience includes prekindergarten and Kindergarten-age children – 3 years old and up. This includes children enrolled in all community early childhood education facilities, including public school pre-kindergarten programs, Kindergarten classes, Head Start, and licensed childcare facilities in Corpus Christi. The program also targets preschool-age children not enrolled in formal childcare or school settings and their parents or guardians.

Approximately 37% of Kindergarten students and 52% of first-grade students are “at-risk” for reading difficulties. According to early reading assessments at our education service center region 2 school districts, this places those students in the category of “at risk of dropping out”, as defined by the Texas Education Agency. Reading proficiency is considered to be essential to success in other core subjects.

So here is what Little Texas Techies can do. Since 2007, our number one goal has been to prepare all young children with the skills they will need to succeed in their future. Our program is expected to impact an estimated 7,200 pre-K and K children each year. This is the estimated capacity of our current program when operating 40 weeks out of the year.

“Building a habit of excellence in our community.” #help.powerup.org

School readiness doesn’t just happen in a week or two. For example, nobody ever showed up to the Olympics and said, gee, you know what, I’ve always really been interested in this triathlon thing and I’m really kind of feeling it today. So lets me enter. And they just happen to by accident win the triathlon. Yeah, that will never happen. School readiness is a result of certain habits. It is a repeated effort. Long term effort. We are an intricate part of the process by creating a totally fun, technology-rich, and interactive stimulating learning environment that will help our children building a habit of excellence in our community.

As the gap between rich and poor continues to grow, the ability to benefit from the opportunities delivered through computers and the Internet can help a generation of young people move out of poverty.

As we at PowerUp continue to explore ways to provide our programs at an affordable rate, we are respectfully asking for donations and partners to allow more at-risk students the opportunity to succeed.

There is no greater investment than investing in the life of a child. Behind every dollar donated is a child whose education has been changed forever. The future depends on what we do in the present. Be a part of this movement and you will know that you have invested wisely in our community and our children and in our future.

“Together we can bridge the digital divide!” #help.powerup.org

  1. JOIN: Join The Movement – Become a Member of help.powerup.org: Learn more about the cause and consider joining the talent lab to help children do their school work online. http://help.powerup.org/join
  2. ASK: Do you or your school need to request a device? If you are a student, teacher, or parent and need a device or WiFi hotspot to access a student’s homework, tell us your needs. http://help.powerup.org/devicerequest
  3. GIVE: Donate Money: We have partnered with companies to match your donations. The money you donate to help.powerup.org will be used for buying laptops and WiFi hotspots for students in need. Thanks to BestBuy and other partners, $150 gets a student full access to remote learning. PowerUp is a non-profit organization exempt from federal income taxation under IRC 501(c)3. Donations are tax-deductible. http://help.powerup.org/give
  4. PARTNER: Interesting in partnering with PowerUp? If you share our passion for providing opportunities where everyone rises up partner with PowerUp for community success. http://help.powerup.org/partner
  5. DONATE: Donate a Device: Your device can change a life. If you have an old device lying around, you can make a tax-deductible donation below. We are accepting donations of Laptops and Wifi Hotspots that are in good working condition, manufactured after 2017, and WiFi capable. We will contact you with logistical information around getting the device to us so that we can get it in the hands of students who need it most. http://help.powerup.org/devicedonation

#PowerUp #BridgeTheDigitalDivide #EliminateTechnologyPoverty

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