During the time of COVID-19, local nonprofits have stepped up to the plate to provide resources to children who do not have the proper equipment for virtual learning.
“We’re thrilled to partner with The Bronx Community Relief Effort, DreamYard and our partner high schools to make sure that more students have access to the technology they need for remote learning and to make sure their professional development continues during this period of so much disruption,” said Abby Jo Sigal, founding CEO of HERE to HERE. “This pandemic has exposed deep inequities across our city, which is only being magnified with school closures and the interruption of programs like the Summer Youth Employment Program.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on New York City has exposed gaps in access to digital learning. HERE to HERE has worked with its network schools to identify the immediate technological needs of their students and schools reported access to laptops and reliable Wi-Fi. A large pool of students across the Bronx and other boroughs, including college students, still lack laptops along with free or affordable, reliable high-speed internet access.
Cities like Philadelphia and Cleveland have shown that adjustments can be made to the youth internship and employment infrastructure to incorporate digital work-based learning. Philadelphia plans to continue its summer youth employment program digitally and HERE to HERE is hoping to show the administration it can do the same.
New York City’s recent decision to cancel Summer Youth Employment Program, a work-based learning opportunity for the city’s young people and communities, has left many searching for ways to develop their professional skills and connections, support their families and stay meaningfully engaged, and if necessary, indoors this summer.
“The Bronx is considered a digital desert with many in our community not having access to technology, or in some cases the internet, in order to learn from home and to participate in virtual work-based learning opportunities,” said Derrick Lewis, founder and chair of the Bronx BCRE. “We are grateful for our partnership with HERE to HERE and DreamYard to distribute Chromebook laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots to our Bronx high school students. Their leadership is helping us close the digital divide in The Bronx.”