PHOENIX, Sept. 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Back-to-school in the virtual space has been stacked with challenges even for kids who have everything they need. But for students across the Valley who lack reliable laptops, it's nearly impossible. It's why Desert Financial Credit Union will match community donations up to $20,000 to help kids bridge "the technology divide" — or the disparity between students whose technology needs are met, and those whose aren't.
Desert Financial, the state's largest credit union, will encourage their members, community and team to make donations of any size starting September 1, 2020, through September 25, 2020, at desertfinancial.com/LaptopDrive.
Desert Financial was founded by schoolteachers more than 81 years ago. As a tribute to their legacy, the credit union has always supported teachers and education. The funds raised will benefit Laptops 4 Learning, a local nonprofit organization that provides quality refurbished laptops to students in need.
"Many people have heard of 'food insecurity' where kids don't have enough to eat," says Jeff Meshey, President and CEO at Desert Financial Credit Union. "But since schools have gone virtual, having a laptop is now among basic needs for kids. We're happy to encourage our own members, community and team to do their part to help ensure all children in Arizona have the technology they need to thrive. It's one way we can help break the cycle of poverty."
Districts such as Litchfield Elementary School stand to benefit from these donations. With more than 12,000 kindergarten through eighth-grade students in 16 schools (including six Title I schools) roughly 30% of their total student population is eligible for free and reduced meals. Further, 24% of families reported having no reliable devices at home to accommodate remote learning.
"The technology divide was already wide prior to this looming COVID-19 pandemic era, however, it has now become glaringly wider due to the urgent move to online classes for most students," said Brenda Powell, Executive Director of Laptops 4 Learning (L4L). "Last year L4L had approximately 350 students registered with our program who were in need of laptops. We were able to provide laptops to 87, approximately 25%, of those students. This year, with four months remaining in 2020, we already have 477 students who have expressed a need for laptops, most of whom are socio-economically disadvantaged students. Receiving this financial support would result in up to 63% of the 477 students (300 students) who are currently registered with our program having their own personal laptop!"
Brenda says children in the foster care system tend to be forgotten, such as those at North Star Independent Living Services. The independent living facility for youth and young adults in foster care serves more than 100 youth between the ages of 16-21 at three locations in Phoenix. Their population has been significantly impacted by the shift to remote learning.
"When the shutdown happened this spring, we found ourselves scrambling to find enough resources to ensure our students were successful in finishing their semester. Unfortunately, we fell short with finding enough computers/laptops to support all our students," said Allison Goodwin, MSW, Educational Specialist and On-Going Resident Services Coordinator. "Our students go to school all throughout Maricopa County (about 22 different schools) — some of which have resources to help the students — but many of them are unable to provide laptops or any technology when schools shut down."
Both organizations have appealed to Laptops 4 Learners.
About Desert Financial Credit Union
Celebrating 81 years in Arizona, Desert Financial is the state's largest local credit union with $5 billion in assets, more than 330,000 members and 47 locations across the Valley. As a not-for-profit cooperative, Desert Financial takes pride in sharing success. In 2019, Desert Financial gave nearly $11 million to Valley nonprofits, the community and members.
About Laptops 4 Learning
Laptops 4 Learning (L4L) is a nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization, that has created a life-changing program focused on providing laptop computers to Elementary through College students. Special focus is given to underprivileged students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds and U.S. Military Veterans. Access to a computer is universally recognized as a required skill set, necessary to succeed in our current educational and work environments.
For more information on Desert Financial Credit Union, along with interviews or images, please contact Diane Meehl at (480) 651-4654. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.