CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - During social distancing, the majority of the country is working from home and most students have taken their lessons online.
But for individuals without computers or internet, the transition can be much more difficult. Bryan Mauk, executive director of PCs for People – Cleveland, estimates about “one in five people in Cleveland don’t have computers and internet.”
Mauk said things like school closings put a spotlight on the digital divide.
He said “I’m actually really seeing those becoming huge barriers for students trying to learn at home, both in high school and college.”
Mauk and his team at PCs for people are working to bridge the gap. They’re providing low income qualified people with affordable computers and internet hot spots with unlimited data.
The computers are as low as $30 and the internet plans, as low as $16 a month.
Mauk said, “The need for computers right now is desperate and dire. It’s just like toilet paper and groceries [at this time]. There’s plenty of food, there’s plenty of toilet paper in our community, but everyone wants it all at once. It’s similar to computers. There’s plenty of computers in our community the problem is everybody needs them right away.”
He added it’s not just low income areas impacted by the “digital divide” and no school district or neighborhood is immune. “I think it’s easy to think just the low income districts are affected but all the districts really [are impacted]. You think about some of the upper income districts where poverty rates might be %5, that’s enough for one or two people in each classroom, but that’s almost more impactful because that person is left behind.”
PCs for People is collecting more computers through corporate and independent donations and working to get them out to those in need. They offer pickup and drop-off to follow the best social distancing and quarantining procedures.
PCs for People will also hold a distribution event at Tri-C Thursday and Friday afternoon. They encourage people to call ahead of time.