Free laptops, school supplies handed out in Englewood
Sharon Baker was among the first in line to receive the free laptop computer and other school supplies for her 16-year-old granddaughter. She said the event was critical for her granddaughter’s education.
Free laptops and school supplies were handed out in Englewood Thursday to help bridge the digital divide for Chicago Public Schools students who are weeks away from beginning what will be a largely remote learning experience.
Sharon Baker was among the first in line to receive the free laptop computer and other school supplies for her 16-year-old granddaughter. She said the event was critical in assuring her granddaughter doesn’t fall behind in her education.
“The way that the world is now it is the best thing for her education, and this will make her capable of doing her online homework,” Baker said. Remote learning, “is different than what we are used too, and before, she didn’t have a laptop to use. So this is a huge help for us.”
Baker was one of 100 people winning a free laptop in a raffle from Comp-U-Dopt, a nationwide non-profit organization helping underserved youth gain access to technology.
Something Good in Englewood hosted the event at its headquarters, 6701 S. Emerald Ave. A band performed as cars drove up to collect their goods. The community group also handed out book bags packed with pencils, notebooks and other school materials.
Nashone Greer-Adams, executive director of Something Good in Englewood, said the partnership with Comp-U-Dopt was vital to helping parents get the technology their children need to thrive in school.
“This is a wonderful day and we are showing that we can come together as a community and do the good work our kids need to succeed,” Greer-Adams said. “We are just excited because it is a part of helping bridge that digital gap.”
Earlier this week, CPS unveiled its framework for complete e-learning with students working remotely because of the worsening public health conditions caused by the coronavirus.
Cherelle Bilal, organizer with Something Good in Englewood, said the free laptops will also go a long way for families with multiple children in school.
“It is extremely important because now some kids will have their own computer dedicated for learning and won’t need to share it with their siblings,” Bilal said. “Each can dedicate themselves to learning without being bothered to share a computer.”
Kaia Dutler, executive director of Comp-U-Dopt in Chicago, said a remote learning becomes the new normal, her organization has been much busier providing tech to students whose families might not otherwise be able to afford it. Since the pandemic hit, her organization has given out 15,000 computers; in a normal year, it only would give out about 3,000.
“Alone in Chicago, from April through September, we will give away close to 6,000 computers,” Dutler said.
Manny Ramos is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.