BRIDGING THE DIVIDE
Allegheny County COVID-19 lockdown begins. Community members call for help
Neighborhood Allies connects with Computer Reach, who could activate 1000 laptops… but need as many adapters to start their audit and refurbishment process. Neighborhood Allies fundraises to purchase 1000 chargers.
Supply chain issues thwart the project… huge challenge to source 1000 chargers domestically. Dell factories are closed globally and customs are restricting shipments from abroad. Tentative delivery timeline is 1-3 months. Desperate to get devices into community members hands, Neighborhood Allies reaches out to Pittsburgh Tech Council to make a local call for adapters and to the Univeristy of Pittsburgh Office of Government and Community Relations to ask if they have the procurement channels to source that many chargers domestically.
Pitt to the rescue! The Pitt CIO orders chargers, launches Virtual IT Help Desk in anticipation of community demand for tech support as they start to receive first devices.
Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) launches their Home Tech Survey to assess demand for digital access in the school district. PPS tentatively orders 500 computers, but The Survey reveals demand exceeds 5000 in the first few days of release.
Gerardo Interiano, Head of Government Affairs at Aurora, discovers the call for assistance on the Pittsburgh Tech Council’s Facebook page, and steps in to create a challenge grant. Aurora lends PR expertise and pulls upon their network to catalyze investment from Google, Heinz Endowments, Richard King Mellon Foundation, The Gismondi Family Foundation, and the University of Pittsburgh.
Rebranded Beyond the Laptops Campaign Officially Launches!
In conjunction with Anthony Hamlet (Superintendent, Pittsburgh Public Schools) and Bill Peduto (Mayor, City of Pittsburgh) the campaign is launched on the Pittsburgh Technology Council, Business as Usual webinar series.
Lots of press, funding happening, volunteers churning …
Computer Reach delivers first 600 devices to Pittsburgh Public Schools for imaging.
Computer Reach distributes 400 devices to community organizations across the City. An outside purchase adds 100 more to the mix.
Department of Human Services (DHS) starts ordering devices to facilitate tele-health and family support services. Ramping up collaboration with DHS, BtL leverages their expertise and data to analyze and vet connectivity solutions and opportunities across the city.
PPS and BtL start to coordinate a sweeping connectivity solution for the Home Tech Survey’s 1000 identified families.
National Science Foundation grant application submitted for “Quantifying Hyperlocal Digital Equity: A Path to Supporting Digital Participation” leveraging BtL network and connectivity intervention. This proposed Pitt-Neighborhood Allies-HCV-DHS study seeks to activate community tech ambassadors to provide tech support and uses affinity networks to normalize digital habit adoption and pathways to certification through Neighborhood Allies’ Digital Inclusion Initiative.
Beyond the Laptops announces purchase of a year of 1000 Internet Essentials accounts, closing the gap on all heretofore disconnected PPS families.
Highmark delivers 400 devices to Computer Reach for activation in the community; ModCloth donates 34 devices directly to Partner4Work’s Learn & Earn summer employment program to help youth work remotely.
A research team comprising leaders from Neighborhood Allies, UPitt and the Homewood Children’s Village is awarded an NSF grant under the RAPID COVID-19 response funding to study community-led digital literacy interventions in the Hill District and Homewood.