Temple and the Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative donated approximately 90 computers to families in North Philadelphia, according to a release from the university.
Temple distributed the computers from 10:30 a.m. through 12:30 p.m. at Norris Homes Community Center on 11th Street near Berks.
The donation comes after Gov. Tom Wolf announced that schools will be closed for the remainder of the academic year due to the COVID-19 outbreak and that schools are encouraged to continue instruction for students with social distancing, according to a press release on the governor’s website. Continuing instruction for some schools can mean virtual learning.
Prior to Wolf’s announcement this week, Wolf closed schools for several weeks and several school districts in the state were concerned about providing equal access to the technology needed for online instruction, WHYY reported.
Temple’s Computer Recycling Center and the Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative distributed around 50 refurbished computers to families associated with the Philadelphia Housing Authority, Esperanza and Congreso de Latinos Unidos, according to a release from the university. Esperanza is a faith-based education and economic development organization in North Philadelphia that serves Latino communities, according to the organization. Congreso de Latinos Unidos is a nonprofit which offers health, education and workforce services with a strong focus on Latino communities in West Kensington, according to their website.
The College of Education gave 40 new laptops to children at Norris Homes and children who normally go to the Norris Community Afterschool Program, according to the release. The college received funding from the City’s Division of Housing and Community Development for this grant.
Shirley Moy, the executive director of the Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative, said PHA, Esperanza and Congreso de Latinos Unidos surveyed the families who were receiving computers and found that there are families who do not have computers at home.
Moy hopes that people will use these computers to develop digital literacy skills.
“Even without a pandemic, you know, I think most jobs require some level of computer literacy,” Moy said.
People who don’t have access to computers in their home to learn digital skills are at a disadvantage, Moy said.
“Giving them a computer this time where if you’re staying at home, it gives you something to work on in terms of taking some free online classes to build your digital skill,” Moy said.
Jonathan Latko, director of the Computer Recycling Center, said this is a time in which people are being asked to go online for school, to file unemployment and to fill out the census.
“We do have a large population of socioeconomic challenged community members who do not have a computer and do not have internet access,” Latko said. “I feel if we don’t figure out a way on the quick to get people connected it will have a tremendous long term effect by people’s health, people’s education, and ultimately, funding related to census data.”
Temple is taking precautions against the COVID-19 outbreak while giving out the computers, Moy said. Families will come and pick up their computer during a scheduled appointment time so there are few people in the community center at once, Moy added.
Next week, the Computer Recycling Center will follow up with families who they gave computers about internet connection, Latko said.