In this time of distance learning for many, a handful of low-income students across Volusia County will receive a new laptop to complete homework assignments, to conduct research for school projects, or to fill out college applications over the summer.
With the help of a donation from the Space Coast Credit Union, United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties will partner with an education nonprofit to purchase laptops for six high school students whose families have faced financial hardship.
“Technology is becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity in our everyday lives,” said United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties President Courtney Edgcomb. “For students trying to do their work and trying to have good connectivity to submit their information, it’s important that they have access to working electronic devices and to ones that will be able to do the whole job for them.”
The $2,402 grant has been awarded to Take Stock in Children, a scholarship and mentoring program for at-risk, low-income students. The program is facilitated through the FUTURES Foundation for Volusia County Schools.
Students selected for Take Stock in Children pledge to steer clear of alcohol, criminal behavior, drugs and gangs, maintain a weighted cumulative 2.5 GPA and meet with a mentor once a week throughout their high school years.
“We had a few of our students at the start of the semester that didn’t have technology at home and their grades have definitely suffered,” said Shimene Shepard, student services and mentor coordinator for Take Stock in Children.
“Some students have been trying to access classes from a tablet or Chromebook, but it doesn’t work the same,” Shepard added. “They fell behind in their classes and worked the rest of the semester trying to catch up. A lot of them were able to catch up, but some of them weren’t. They’re going into their second semester a little bit behind from where they would like to be on their grades.”
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed education leaders to fulfill the needs of students without access to devices at home. In an effort to ensure all its students have access to a laptop or iPad, Volusia County Schools distributed 33,000 laptops to middle and high school students last month.
More: Volusia to distribute 33,000 laptops to middle and high schoolers
“When you’re getting into middle and high school, you need to be able to do seamless searches for information and sometimes you can’t do that easily on a tablet. ” said Sheila Pillath, United Way director of resource development. “In looking at doing laptops versus the tablet, it seemed to be the most logical option for us that students have quality equipment. A lot of times, children from lower income homes don’t have access to something like that. We wanted to make sure students that needed it most would be set up for success.”