As children throughout NYC were forced to learn remotely when the pandemic began there was one glaring problem: a lack of laptops.
In addition to the Department of Education distributing devices to kids, many elected officials and companies did so as well. Hawk Newsome, political activist and co-founder of the Greater New York Chapter of Black Lives Matter, noticed a growing need for tech resources while delivering meals to his community in the Bronx.
Newsome reached out to a longtime friend Cynthia Johnson, who took to social media to source monetary donations. Shortly after that, Alek Manoah, a pitcher on the Toronto Blue Jays, replied to Johnson’s message on social media and purchased 15 new laptops for families who are part of Hawk’s mobile soup kitchen “The People’s Food Program.”
While this donation was in June of 2020, it helped lead to the formation of WonderKey Collective (WKC), a 501(c)(3) in March. Its mission is to source, refurbish and distribute technology and related resources, such as portable Wi-Fi devices, to underserved and underfunded communities around the country.
“WonderKey started as an idea to aid the challenges of remote learning for families, schools and social workers alike, but what made the organization bloom was the inherent support communities show when a call to action is made,” Johnson said. “We started making calls and it turned out that most people are looking for ways to be part of a solution. Hawk and Alek exemplify the support and kindness that can be found in every community.”
Johnson told the Bronx Times that she and her colleagues are looking to partner up with more organizations and or schools in the Bronx as they realize how much the pandemic impacted people in the borough.
She stressed that is it a digital age and kids must have the tools needed to succeed.
“We want go where the need is and there’s clearly a need in the Bronx,” she stressed. “Now we need to find the proper recipients for the laptops.”
WKC is currently accepting monetary donations with plans to host a tech drive in partnership with various New York organizations to further source hardware and software. All donated hardware will be refurbished by WKC’s official technology partner Liquid Technology.
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