Two organizations recently partnered with Fort Valley State University’s Cooperative Extension Program to provide students residing in Peach County, Georgia, with access to the digital world.
AT&T’s Collective Learning Initiative provided more than 100 laptops to Peach County students for free. Human I-T, an organization that provides devices, internet access, digital skills training and tech support for underserved communities, will provide technical support for one year.
Through a grant called “Piloting an Ecosystem for Digital Equity,” Fort Valley State University’s Cooperative Extension Program is partnering with local organizations such as the Fort Valley Youth Center for Excellence and Head Start to open the door to broadband access for the community.
Terrence Wolfork, FVSU assistant Extension administrator for communications, conferencing and technology, is the principal investigator for the grant. Funded for a total of $2,997,588 for the next two years, Wolfork said funds will be used to purchase Wi-Fi hotspots, laptops and other materials needed to help bridge the digital divide in local areas. If successful, the program could gain additional funding. This giveaway is an additional activity that developed outside of this funding.
Tracy Preston and her 13-year-old daughter, Aydriana Jackson, were ecstatic to receive a computer at no cost from AT&T.
“It’s a Godsend, especially for low-income parents like myself,” Preston said. “Our previous computer was damaged, and I was wondering how I was going to replace it, but this came in right on time,” said the Peach County native.
“This is an excellent opportunity for us to enhance our outreach efforts, but more importantly this is a chance to reach many kids in the community with technology,” said Dr. Mark Latimore Jr., FVSU’s associate dean for Cooperative Extension. “As broadband continues to increase in rural areas, our students really need to be on board as far as the proper equipment is concerned,” he said.
Furthermore, the FVSU administrator said the combined efforts of Wolfork and AT&T to provide students with laptops will enhance their educational opportunities.
This project is funded by the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) Connecting Minority Communities (CMC) Grant. For more information about the grant, contact Wolfork at (478) 952-4730 or firstname.lastname@example.org.