In the city of Pittsburgh, 13% of households do not have computers. Nearly one in five households in Allegheny County lack at-home internet.
Pittsburgh Public schools reports a shortage of 7,000 computers as students transitioned to online learning in April of 2020. Not only does a lack of hardware, such as a laptop, inhibit online learning facilitated by schools, but also prevents independent learning or digital skill building.
Even households with broadband access and a computer face challenges with the scaling up to meet digital needs. As the COVID crisis forces work and school online, the device to child ratio is now a stressor for families. How are families supposed to decide how to allocate digital access? There is no correct choice in sacrificing one child’s basic learning basic reading skills or high school math.
Closing the hardware access gap requires comprehensive programming that targets laptop distribution, as seen in our Beyond the Laptops challenge. While first focusing on laptop distribution, from there digital connectivity and education/empowerment can become a focus.