in the News
To support the transition to online education in higher education, we have awarded a Michelson Spark Grant to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Office of Open Learning.
Amongst its far-reaching effects, the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 illuminated another as-yet-unsolved plague on American society: the yawning economic and educational chasm perpetuated by the “digital divides” across access to high speed internet, connected devices, and digital literacy. Put differently: many of our greatest problems, while newly exacerbated by COVID-19, can be traced to the same root cause–digital inequity.
While $500 may not sound like a life-changing amount of money, for many vulnerable college students, a $500 financial emergency can force them to drop out of college, altering the trajectory of their lives.
Technology has been nothing short of a godsend during the pandemic, allowing us to work, play and stay in touch with loved ones all while maintaining the appropriate social distance. And with many classrooms closed as schools have transitioned to remote learning, the demand for edtech continues apace.
It’s no secret that in the United States, there are disparities in our society that cut across racial lines. Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) disproportionately experience injustice within the criminal legal system, and face barriers in education, employment, healthcare, even access to internet connectivity — all of which reduce the quality of life for millions and prevent our country from fulfilling its promise of equity.
Even before the onset of the global pandemic, college life was a struggle for many students looking to make ends meet while getting their education. To those unfamiliar with the profile of today’s college students, it might come as a surprise to learn that a 2019 Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice survey found that 45% of students at two and four-year U.S. universities were food insecure, even though 61% held jobs. Additionally, 56% of students reported facing housing insecurity, and 17% of respondents were homeless. The pandemic and ensuing economic disruption have made financial situations even more precarious for college students, particularly those from minority, low-income, and first-generation backgrounds.