Bank of America looks to bridge digital divide with massive donation to Charlotte students

The devices come without restrictions and full access to the internet for students and their families
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 8:32 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Bank of America has announced it is donating 10,000 Chromebooks to students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in hopes of taking a huge chunk out of the digital divide in the Charlotte area.

The bank is teaming up with the group Eliminate the Digital Divide (E2D), the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, and will start distribution today.

“Internet capability and having laptops and Chromebooks is really a requirement to truly participate in a future,” said President of Bank of America Charlotte Kieth Cockrell.

Bank executives say they were able to identify families through school social workers and students who used loaned equipment last year. However, Cockrell says unlike loaned equipment, the permanent devices come without restrictions and full access to the internet for students and their families.

“There are tremendous examples of adults who are in that household who are still looking for job opportunities, career choices, résumé opportunities, educational and skill enhancement,” said Cockrell. “These devices will be able to provide support for the adults in the household, as well.”

Cockrell says they believe this donation will tackle the entire need for devices in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. They are now hoping that other private and public donors will jump in to help tackle the divide in neighboring counties, too.

“We really believe this donation puts us on a path where we could potentially be the first major city in the US to eliminate the digital divide,” said Cockrell. “We recognize that we didn’t have the wherewithal to eliminate it ourselves, but we thought we could provide leadership. That was the essence of forming this public-private coalition of CMS, the foundation, the city and the county.”

In addition to the Chromebooks, Bank of America will be donating 10,000 volunteer hours through tutoring and mentoring.

The bank has also teamed up with Novant Health for the Chromebook distribution to offer onsite COVID-19 vaccinations and to help get students set up appointments for annual immunizations ahead of the new school year.

Cockrell says they will hold multiple distribution events and expect to have all the Chromebooks in students’ hands before the start of the school year on Aug. 25.

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