$350,000 raised so far to give Atlanta students computers, but more needed

A stack of Chromebook laptops is shown in this Atlanta Journal-Constitution file photo from September 13, 2018.(JASON GETZ/SPECIAL TO THE AJC)

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

As the coronavirus pandemic shut down school buildings, a vast discrepancy became apparent: Not all students have the technology they need to continue to learn from home.

A fundraising drive to provide devices and internet access for low-income Atlanta students has raised $350,000 so far.

The district partnered with Comcast to launch a campaign aimed at providing high-speed internet and computers to low-income students who need them to do school work. Students get to keep the devices provided through the program.

The initial fundraising goal of $300,000 already has been met. The effort has raised $350,000 as of this week, enough money to help 1,500 students.

Atlanta Public Schools officials said they now hope to raise an additional $300,000. And, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen has said that the full cost of equipping needy students could be closer to $1.5 million.

“As we closed schools for teleschooling and teleworking in response to COVID-19, we needed more help from partners to close the digital divide and keep our students connected,” said Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, in a written statement when the district first announced the campaign.

The effort is in addition to the district's work to distribute thousands of district-owned devices to students. Those loaners meant to help students keep up with lessons from home, but students eventually will be expected to return them.

A $300 donation to the fundraising campaign will pay for 12 months of internet access and a laptop that students will get to keep.

“We are trying to get closer to 100% connectivity,” Carstarphen said, during a news conference earlier this month. “They get to keep the Chromebook. It will be their Chromebook to have for as long as the technology lasts.”

Among the early donors were gifts from Trinity HealthShare and Atlanta Tech Village.

For more information about the fundraising effort, visit the district's website here.

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