‘Our family is blessed:’ thousands of CMS students get free Chrome Books from Bank of America, partnering organizations
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Bank of America is making strides to eliminate the digital divide by getting thousands of students free Chrome Books.
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 the future,” said President of Bank of America Charlotte Kieth Cockrell.
“It makes me feel like our family is blessed,” said West Charlotte High School rising junior Aaron Hall.
West Charlotte High School twins and rising juniors Anthony and Aaron Hall are two of the thousands of students getting brand new chrome books.
It’s an effort from Bank of America to make sure students have reliable internet access not just during the school year but year-round too.
“We had a great deadline to put ourselves in a position where students could be really ready to fully participate in the new academic year,” Cockrell said.
“I am grateful to Bank of America for this generous donation to our students and their families,” said CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston. “Access to technology is a crucial step in our commitment to equity and is necessary for success in the 21st century. These Chromebooks will allow our students to readily engage in their education and open new opportunities for them and their loved ones.”
According to CMS, the school district donated thousands of hotspots and other resources during the pandemic to help students with interconnectivity.
“During the pandemic, CMS distributed more than 116,000 laptops and iPads to students for remote learning to use at home. In addition, CMS foundation raised $1Million to purchase 6,000 hotspots following March 2020 closures. In total, approximately 8,300 hotspots were distributed from spring of 2020 to present. In addition, some 5,000 were already in use by students/families in the community prior to the pandemic,” a spokesperson from the district said.
The Hall’s now have their own computer and don’t have to rely on the library or other resources.
Aaron says while he and his brother work well together the last two school years were a challenge.
“It was hard when we both had work to do and we were both trying to get it done it was hard,” Aaron said.
The brothers say having their own computer they can explore job opportunities and college applications whereas their school-issued Chrome Book only allowed school assignments and CMS-related websites.
“The school computer that they provided it had blocks on it so we couldn’t get on everything that we needed to get on. So I think that the computer will help in many ways as far as internet browsing,” Anthony said.
The devices aren’t just helping students, but parents too. The boys’ mother Nikita James was laid off in May and says having a computer at home will speed up her job search process.
“It’s just so much easier because it’s more visible I can go on more sites you know, for job searches where [with] my phone somethings you can’t pull up and you have to have a Chrome Book for it,” James said.
James says it’s also a financial relief too.
The nonprofit E2D has been tracking the digital divide since 2013.
President Pat Millen says getting laptops in the hands of students is a step towards equity and more opportunities.
“If you don’t have a computer or your computer is no good anymore you’re just going to fall further and further behind. What’s so great about these computers and what makes them so transformational is that these are families that are immediately going to vault right back to the pack,” Millen said.
Bank of America says they want to be a catalyst for other companies to donate technology to other schools in need.
“We knew the number of families that were in need and the number of students in CMS. We wanted to have a real impact and eliminate this issue in Charlotte-Mecklenburg but as we know we’ve got Union County and several other major counties right here,” Cockrell said.
A small step with a larger impact helping students like Aaron and Anthony.
“They cost a lot so just to get one free is going to be nice. It’s going to feel good and take less stress off,” Anthony said.
If you are a CMS student and need other technological resources such as hot spots, click here.
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