Wake County parents are getting free computers and training on how to use them so their children can have access at home to the digital resources that could help them succeed in school.
A total of 510 desktop and laptop computers will be given this school year to families who participate in the Family Digital Academy program offered at nine Wake schools. An excited group of 100 families received computers Thursday at Hodge Road Elementary School as part of an effort to help bridge the digital divide.
“We’re giving them the tools so even if they don’t have the academic knowledge, they have the tools so they can support their kids academically,” said Rosa Rangel, senior administrator in the school system’s Office of Equity Affairs.
Mariza Romero, who has two daughters at Hodge Road Elementary and one daughter at East Wake Middle School, was looking forward to setting up her new computer.
“It’s good because we don’t have a lot of money,” Romero said. “We have an old, old computer, but we have three girls.”
Rangel said she’s heard similar happy stories since the Family Digital Academy program began last school year at Combs Elementary in Raleigh. With the help of Univision and the Kramden Institute, a nonprofit group in Durham, 150 computers were distributed last school year.
Rangel said the program was so successful that it has expanded to include Brentwood and Washington elementary schools and Millbrook and Southeast Raleigh high schools in Raleigh; Carpenter Elementary and Cary High in Cary; Lincoln Heights Elementary in Fuquay-Varina and Hodge Road Elementary.
Kramden is providing the desktops, and the United Way is donating the laptops. Rangel said laptops are being given to high school students and to fifth-grade students since they’ll have the most need of the computers at school.
The workshops, which are being taught in multiple languages, provide parents with information about different online resources they can use at home to support their children. Organizers say putting these resources into the hands of parents could help close the achievement gap that exists between low-income and more affluent students.
Families are also being told how they can contact AT&T to get access to low-cost home internet service.
“We want you to understand what your child is doing so you can help them with their reading and math,” Rangel told parents at Hodge Road.
For Romero, who can remember the days when classrooms had one computer, she said having a modern computer at home is necessary for her children’s education.
“We used to look at a lot of books for homework,” Romero said. “Now they can just type in Google.”