The sudden switch to virtual school at the height of the pandemic came at a cost for Madison Maloney.
Like many students from low income families, she didn’t have a computer or steady Wi-Fi.
“It was very hard for me to do work on my cellphone. Like writing essays was probably the most difficult things to do,” Maloney recalled. “Switching tabs between Zoom and then going to my assignments and also listening in to my teacher at the same time… it felt impossible.”
What You Need To Know
- The sudden switch to virtual school at the height of the pandemic came at a cost for low income families without adequate digital access
- TechFIN co-founder Shadan Deleveaux said it’s their mission to help families get access to laptops and other devices to close the digital divide that puts many low income and minority families at a disadvantage
- A key to their operation is getting companies to donate devices they no longer need
Now, she has a laptop of her own and appreciates features many take for granted.
The device was a gift from Technology for Families in Need, also known as TechFIN.
“These are effectively laptops that have been refurbished and donated by companies,” co-founder Shadan Deleveaux said.
Their mission is to help close the digital divide that puts many low income and minority kids at a disadvantage, unable to develop basic computer skills or even the ability to type.
Deleveaux said far too many people are learning in adulthood, usually on jobs that require work with computers.
“We always talk about this illustration of building a plane and learning how to fly it at the same time, and so for many people who come from low income families that’s the experience. You’re always playing catch up,” said Deleveaux.
Getting companies to donate devices they no longer need is key to their operation.
Their techs change the hardware, and then the computers are updated and ready to go.
It’s work, they say, is only possible with the help of those donors and other groups that provide needed funding.
“Because we’re efficient, we’re effectively able to turn around a used computer and donate it to a family at a cost of about $120 per computer,” said Deleveaux.
The John A. Reisenbach Foundation, which helps secure funding for nonprofit organizations, hails TechFIN’s work as critical.
“Funding TechFIN was obviously an easy decision. They do something that is so timely [and] that’s even become more timely in the last couple of years,” said Naomi Ryan, the foundation’s president.
So far, the organization has given laptops and other computers to more than 3,000 families.
For more information, visit tech-fin.org.