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Organizations help kids bridge digital schooling divide by providing internet, learning tools

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RichLegg/iStockBy ENJOLI FRANCIS, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — This report is part of “Turning Point,” a groundbreaking month-long series by ABC News examining the racial reckoning sweeping the United States and exploring whether it can lead to lasting reconciliation.

New York City, with the largest public school system in the U.S., started inviting some students back into the classroom this week — but, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, others remain confined to their homes, taking virtual classes.

Parents and community leaders across the country shared their struggles with remote learning and the “digital divide” with ABC News.

According to a June 2020 report from Common Sense Media and the Boston Consulting Group, 50 million public school students are getting their education from home — but 9 million are without the adequate technology or Internet access to learn effectively.

Many of these kids, who lack the appropriate technology, are people of color, or live in rural areas.

The way schooling has changed due to the pandemic has made it clearer than ever that there is a huge educational gap tied to race and economic standing.

An analysis this month of four major U.S. cities showed that nearly half of Native American or Latino households with kids reported problems with their internet connection, or reported that they had no access to the internet at all. More than one in three Black households reported the same.

These are some organizations making efforts to bridge the digital gap to ensure students are getting the education they deserve this fall.

Kajeet is sending wifi-enabled buses to neighborhoods that lack Wi-Fi.

zSpace is delivering laptops with built-in 3D capabilities so students can perform lab experiments from home.

Everyoneon.org is a nonprofit that connects low-income families to affordable internet service and computers.

The free app CloudCheck helps you find the strongest signal in your home.

Notebooksforstudents.org offers special discounts for students on laptops from brands like Apple, Lenovo, HP and Dell.

Comcast launched Internet Essentials offering broadband internet service at $9.95 per month with the option to purchase a heavily subsidized computer for low-income students. First-time users also get 60 days free. Verizon, AT&T and Cox are also offering discounts for students needing to access the internet from home.

DevicesforStudents.org is a coalition of tech employees, educators and nonprofits working to provide laptops and WiFi to students in need.

Google launched its distance learning alleviation efforts to support educational organizations worldwide, particularly in under-served communities.

Some YMCAs are providing Wi-Fi-stable workspaces for kids without access.

The California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) formed in 1975, is a leading organization in California that focuses on the needs of English learners and biliteracy programs. CABE strategically provides professional development for teachers and administrators, leadership training for parents and families, and advocacy and policy support at the state and national level.

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