Photo credit: Spectrum News 1

When the COVID-19 public health crisis sent college and university communities home and online for the remainder of their semesters, the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) knew that completing the academic year would involve significant challenges for both educators and students. This transition to remote learning shone a light on a critical gap in our educational system between those with home access to computers and internet and those without.

Perhaps the greatest impediment to student success today, nearly 30% of LACCD’s student population is affected by the digital divide. And while long-term digital strategies are critical to the future of higher learning LACCD’s leadership knew that, without real-time intervention, thousands of students would be unable to complete their coursework.

Last year, The Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges, launched its Bridging the Digital Divide program and helped 4,000 students gain access to laptops, internet and digital literacy workshops but this was before the current public health crisis. The Los Angeles Community College District wants to make sure that all students across its nine colleges have the tools to continue their studies and we’re thrilled about partnering with philanthropy to fill this immediate need and work together in the long run to find long term solutions to this very important issue. 

In partnership with the Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges and other funders, 20MM provided $45,000 in grant funding to bridge the divide for disconnected students. After the Foundation engaged local nonprofit Human I-T, an organization with national repute for its excellence, 20MM worked alongside the Foundation and other funders to ensure Human I-T had the resources to provide devices, low-cost high-speed internet, and IT support to LACCD students in need. 

With LACCD’s guidance, 20MM’s support will help provide refurbished Chromebooks to 3,000 LACCD students. In addition to device distribution, Human I-T will also offer tech support, hardware warranties, online digital literacy programs and other scaffolding supports over the next year.

“Over the past several weeks, our national economy and educational systems have been tested like never before,” said Michelson 20MM founder Dr. Gary Michelson. “Without critical investments into all students, our economy –– with its vast precarity across the educational, intellectual property and physical supply and value chains newly laid bare –– will become increasingly vulnerable to disruption, widening socioeconomic inequality, and even total collapse. This gift to LACCD, alongside others our foundation is making to alleviate the sudden shifts in higher education, is our acknowledgment of, and response to, critical service gaps and systemic issues.”

As a next step in our work to support students during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis, the 20MM team remains in ongoing dialogue with LACCD and Human I-T to determine best practices for meeting areas of need. With the digital divide’s impacts on education newly highlighted––perhaps more than ever before––we are committed to investing in and researching comprehensive solutions that will close this gap for all students. 

Get in touch with our team to learn more about how you can support our efforts to bridge the divide and to ensure all students have equitable access to the resources they need to succeed through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

By reusing instead of recycling electronics, Human I-T transforms “e-waste” into opportunities, all the while advancing digital inclusion and online access. Human IT collaborates with corporations, government entities, nonprofits, and the general public to achieve these goals. Learn more about Human I-T.

The Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges removes barriers to education and envisions a future where all individuals seeking to broaden their knowledge and skills have access to education through the Los Angeles Community Colleges, regardless of their socio-economic background.Learn more about the Foundation for LACCD.