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California to Provide Laptops for Disadvantaged Students to Continue Distance Learning

-Editorial

Governor Gavin Newsom announced yesterday new partnerships to support the state’s distance learning efforts to bridge the digital divide.

“School may be physically closed, but class is still in session,” said Governor Newsom. “But for a class to be in session, it is imperative that California addresses the inequities in access to computers, technology tools, and connectivity to ensure that online learning can, in fact, reach all of California’s children. It’s inspiring to see parents, teachers, businesses and philanthropy step up to meet this moment and provide tools to help bridge the digital divide and get more students connected.”

“I am beyond grateful for the generosity and leadership of our community leaders to help us bridge the technology gap that too many California families are facing,” said First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “As a mother of four, I know well that the challenges of distance learning can take a toll – both on the child and the parent. That is why it is crucial we close the digital divide and work to ensure that every child has what they need to reach their full potential.”

Approximately one in five students in California lack high-speed Internet or an appropriate computing device at home. In a parent survey two weeks ago, 50 percent of low-income families and 42 percent of families of color reported that they lacked the laptop, Chromebook, or tablet needed to access distance learning.

“We are so thankful to everyone that is stepping up to help us close the digital divide. These efforts will truly make an impact in the lives of our students and an even greater impact as we work to close achievement gaps that existed before this public health crisis,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “I look forward to continuing these efforts with my “Closing the Digital Divide” task force, co-chaired by Senator Connie Leyva, because we are stronger together, and together, we can close the digital divide for all students in California.”

Earlier this month, Governor Newsom issued a call to action to business, government, and community leaders to help bridge the digital divide. Leaders across sectors stepped up to heed the call.

First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, State Board of Education President Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond led – and will continue to lead – the drive for community leaders to heed the Governor’s call to action.

Companies, business leaders, and philanthropists heeded the call by committing to provide Internet access for hundreds of thousands of households and over 70,000 laptops, Chromebooks, and tablets for students.

* T-Mobile is donating 13,000 tablet devices, in addition to the previously-announced 100,000 hotspot devices (for which they partnered with Google.)

* Amazon is donating 10,000 tablet devices.

* Apple is actively working with 800 districts across the state, offering free coaching sessions to teachers to help them with the transition to remote learning. In addition, Apple is offering special pricing for iPads with cellular and has given the equivalent of 9,000 iPads to ensure the most vulnerable in our state have access.

* Verizon is partnering with the State of California to provide 250,000 students with unlimited Internet service at a discount.

* The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative is donating $1,000,000.

* Jack Dorsey (via #startsmall) is donating $1,000,000

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